Among the many story lines from Egypt’s big win over Niger in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier was the return of Aly Ghazal.
The Vancouver Whitecaps defensive midfielder debuted for the Pharaohs back in 2014, under then-head coach Shawky Gharib.
But Gharib’s lackluster tenure left plenty to be forgotten, and unfortunately Ghazal was guilty-by-association.
However, his club career continued to progress and he finally got another shot to represent Egypt in a competitive match yesteday.
Ghazal’s performance was nearly flawless, and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“The most important thing is the win, thank God. Of course it’s also nice to win big like we did and for everyone to play so well, which makes all the fans happy.” he said in an interview with Egypt’s ON Sport.
“Expectations aside, our goal was to win big. It’s what we worked on in training. I’m thankful,” he added.
Ghazal also felt more comfortable this time around, playing more in the middle of the defense instead of as a right-back, where former manager Hector Cuper deployed him in a pre-World Cup training camp.
“I’ve played a long time in this role, so naturally I’ll play a bit better there than in another position,” he said.
“[Coach Javier Aguirre] understood what players he had and in what positions they’re best deployed.
“I don’t mind playing anywhere I’m asked. Whatever position you’re in as a player, you’ll have good games, but sometimes you’ll have bad ones too.”
With international duty successfully completed, Ghazal’s attention now turns to helping his club down the homestretch of the MLS season.
“Thank God, things are going well [with the Whitecaps]. We have a match on the 15th, and in the coming period our focus is on getting into the playoffs.”
Ghazal says he’ll be back in Vancouver on Monday.