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Ali Ghazal

Ali Ghazal
Aly Ghazal Vancouver v Colorado.jpg
Ghazal in 2017
Personal information
Full name Ali Ahmed Ali Mohamed Ghazal[1]
Date of birth (1992-02-01) 1 February 1992 (age 26)
Place of birth Aswan, Egypt
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Playing position Defensive midfielder, defender
Club information
Current team
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Number 66
Youth career
2000–2006 El Sekka El Hadid
2006–2013 Wadi Degla
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2013–2017 Nacional 107 (1)
2017 Guizhou Zhicheng 0 (0)
2017– Vancouver Whitecaps FC 20 (0)
National team
2011–2013 Egypt U20 3 (0)
2014– Egypt 5 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:57, 11 August 2018 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 06:56, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Ali Ahmed Aly Mohamed Ghazal (Arabic; علي احمد علي محمد غزال ; born 1 February 1992) is an Egyptian professional footballer who plays for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer. He can play as a defensive midfielder or as a centre back.

He began his career as a youth player with El Sekka El Hadid before joining Wadi Degla in 2006. In 2013, despite having not played a senior game, he was sold to Portuguese club Nacional where he made his professional debut. After establishing himself in the first team, he was later named captain of the club, becoming the first Egyptian player to captain a top-tier European team. He joined Chinese side Guizhou Zhicheng in 2017 but changes to the league's foreign player quota resulted in him never playing a league match and his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Following his release, he joined Vancouver in 2017, helping the side reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in his first season.

In May 2013, Ghazal was called up for the Egyptian national team, making his international debut a year later.

Club career

Youth

Born in Aswan, Ghazal grew up in Cairo playing football on the streets. His father and uncle were both former footballers.[3] His nephews were invited to a trial with El Sekka El Hadid and asked Ghazal to go with them where he impressed the club's coaches and was offered a contract. His performances with El Hadid attracted attention from both Zamalek, where he trained with the squad for a month, and Al Ahly but transfers to both clubs collapsed over El Hadid's asking price. Mohamed Abbas who had worked as a coach with Zamalek during Ghazal's spell there was eventually appointed manager of Wadi Degla and persuaded him to join the side at the age of fourteen.[4][5]

Degla were owned by Egyptian businessman Mamed Sagny who also owned Belgian side Lierse and arranged a trial with the club when Ghazal turned eighteen. Ghazal later commented on his relationship ship with Sagny, stating "Samy is like a big brother to me, one of those who really believed in me from the very start, he made sure I trained well and even got me a personal English tutor to improve my language." He spent a month on trial with Lierse but was not offered a contract.[4]

Nacional

Having been turned down by Lierse, Ghazal instead assembled a video of him playing for Degla's youth team and sent it to a scout he met online. The scout sent the video to coaches of Portuguese club Nacional, who submitted an offer to sign Ghazal and the transfer was completed in 2012 for a fee of €40,000.[4][6]

After arriving at the club, Ghazal initially struggled to adapt to the pace of football in Portugal, later commenting: "I had no clue about anything. I took time in that first half season. I was not performing that well".[3] He helped the side qualify for the UEFA Europa League and his performances attracted the attention of clubs from Italy and France, but their offers were rejected by the Nacional board.[4]

At the start of the 2016–17 season, Ghazal scored his first senior professional goal during a 3–2 defeat to Belarusian side Dinamo Minsk in the Europa League.[7] Ghazal later became the youngest person to captain the club at the age of 24 during a match against Marítimo and was later appointed as the club's permanent captain, becoming the first Egyptian player to captain a top-tier European side.[8] In February 2016, he made his 100th appearance in all competitions for Nacional during a 1–1 draw with Vitória.[9]

In 2017, he was sold to Chinese club Guizhou Zhicheng for a fee of €2.6 million following Nacional's relegation to LigaPro at the end of the 2016–17 season. But, as a result of new Chinese Football Association player regulations which limited the number of foreign players allowed to play in matches, Ghazal was unable to play for the club in the league, making one Chinese FA Cup appearance for the club, during a 5–3 defeat to Shanghai Shenxin,[10] before the club mutually agreed to terminate his contract.[4]

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

On 10 August 2017, Ghazal signed with Major League Soccer club Vancouver Whitecaps FC.[11] Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson later revealed that the club had previously tried to sign Ghazal prior to his move to China and had been in contact with him for two months before he eventually signed.[12] He made his debut a month later, starting in a 3–2 defeat against San Jose Earthquakes, earning praise from Robinson who described his performance as "absolutely top class."[13] He made seven regular season appearances for the Whitecaps and played in all three of their MLS postseason playoff matches,[14] reaching the semi-final before losing to Seattle Sounders FC.[4]

International career

After playing for the Egyptian under-20 side, Ghazal received his first call-up to the senior squad under manager Bob Bradley in 2013 but did not feature. He made his international debut under Bradley's successor Shawky Gharieb, being named in the starting line-up for a 2–0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 March 2014.[15] He earned four further caps in 2014, including two in Egypt's unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.[16]

Ghazal later criticised Egypt manager Héctor Cúper over his continued omission from national team squads, commenting "I play well with Nacional so it's normal to join the national team as there are players (who have) failed to save regular places in their team, but they have been called for the camps."[17] In 2018, he held talks with Cuper over returning to the national team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but was not included.[18]

Career statistics

As of 23 June 2018[19]
Club performance League Cup Continental Other Total
Club Season League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Nacional 2012-13 Primeira Liga 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
2013–14 26 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 28 0
2014–15 29 1 2 0 2 1 1 0 34 2
2015–16 27 0 2 0 4 0 0 0 35 0
2016–17 14 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 15 0
Total 107 1 7 0 6 1 1 0 123 2
Guizhou Zhicheng 2017 Chinese Super League 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2017 Major League Soccer 7 0 0 0 0 0 3[a] 0 10 0
2018 8 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
Total 15 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 18 0
Career total 122 1 8 0 6 1 1 0 142 2
  1. ^ Appearances in MLS Cup Playoffs

References

  1. ^ "Detalhe de jogador". ligaportugal.pt. Liga Portugal. 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Player Profile: Ali Ghazal". CD Nacional. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Farhan Devji (23 November 2017). "'Just a boy from Egypt:' Meet Aly Ghazal". Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ramez Nathan (27 February 2018). "Whitecaps' Aly Ghazal shares his full story ahead of MLS season". KingFut.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  5. ^ Mohamed Soltan (25 September 2017). "Ghazal, an Egyptian success story abroad". Egypt Today. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  6. ^ "Saint-Étienne, Swansea target Ali Ghazal gets Egypt call-up". Kingfut.com. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Ghazal scores first goal for Nacional vs Dinamo Minsk". KingFut.com. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  8. ^ Mohamed Koronfel (6 October 2016). "Egyptians who captained in Europe". KingFut.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  9. ^ Abdelrahman Aboelnoor (21 February 2016). "100th appearance for Ghazal, Nacional draw with Setúbal". KingFut.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  10. ^ Mohamed Korain (5 May 2017). "Aly Ghazal makes his debut in Guizhou Zhicheng FA Cup defeat". KingFut.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  11. ^ "Whitecaps FC acquire Egyptian international central midfielder Aly Ghazal". Vancouver Whitecaps FC. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  12. ^ Mohamed Farouk (11 August 2017). "Robinson: Ghazal is a top player capable of bringing us to the next level". KingFut.com. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  13. ^ Farhan Devji (10 September 2017). "Ghazal makes MLS debut". Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  14. ^ "Aly Ghazal". Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  15. ^ Marwan Ahmed (11 March 2014). "Egypt debutant Aly Ghazal speaks to KingFut". KingFut.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  16. ^ "Ali Ghazal". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  17. ^ Mahmoud Elassal (5 June 2016). "Egyptian defender Ghazal fights to stay in Europe, criticises Cuper". Ahram Online. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  18. ^ James Alabi. "Exiled Egypt's Aly Ghazal advancing talks with coach Hector Cuper over World Cup". Enis Sports. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  19. ^ Ali Ghazal at Soccerway. Retrieved 23 June 2018.