Saturday 20 January 2018

'I am sorry for Jack Charlton, but we could not oblige him' - Egypt boss Mahmoud El Gohary

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Italia 90, we will be reliving all the action from that memorable World Cup

Ireland and Egypt in action
Ireland and Egypt in action

Noel Dunne reports from Palermo

EGYPTIAN manager Mahmoud El Gohary is much too diplomatic and polite to reciprocate in abrasive terms, but his reaction to his opposite number's criticism of his tactics in the game on Sunday could, colloquially, be put as "take a Lash-Jack".

El Gohary in fact put the blame for the low standard of the match at the Favorita Stadium, if not fairly, at least squarely on Charlton's shoulders.

He is looking forward to the game against England. "With the English, only the crosses are in the air. Unlike Ireland, they do not play football like tennis.

"I was very satisfied with my team. But Ireland play dangerous football and I had to use unusual tactics to counter it. I was only sorry that in the process which was forced upon us, our team was made to look bad.

"Ireland plan their game just looking for one mistake by the other team. I am sorry for Jack Charlton, but we could not oblige him."

He finished off with the most cutting comment of all — "Ireland played no football against England, they played no football against Egypt, and there will be no football against Holland either."

Virtually all of which I disagree with.

I gather that I was watching a different match from most other people, but for El Gohary to adopt this holier than thou stance is even harder to stomach.

It is being said that Charlton was beaten at his own game. A facile, sweeping statement which is not only full of holes but totally ignores the blatant cynicism of a team which was not just stopped from playing in a manner in which they are capable, but under instructions from their manager, did not try too hard to do so.

I don't think the Irish game is planned in the way El Gohary maintains. And although Charlton's inflexibility and stubborness in his selections is undoubtedly the man's weakest point, for the players to be subjected to such a slating after Sunday's game, even to be called cheats, is climbing on the bandwagon of the hind-sighted begrudgers and day to day experts.

Perhaps the Irish fans, and others on a high of euphoria since we qualified for the European Championship finals two years ago have gone overboard in the other direction in their reaction to Sunday's performance.

The draw with England, an even worse game, brought no such hysterical response. The might of the star-studded Brits had been stifled — and that amounted to victory.

But the Eygptians were taken to be a walk-over, though who put out that particular fable I don't know.

They were never going to be, but the manner in which they went about reserving their dignity, as they consider it, and a hopefully useless point, has been largely ignored. All of a sudden Mahmoud is god and El Gohary is his prophet.

Charlton, the Irish god of football, and his playing apostles, are now mere creatures with feet of clay.

It has all led to an Irish camp which is the unhappiest I have ever seen. One got the feeling from an early stage that the usual atmosphere had been tainted by financial considerations, and rumours of internal discontent have been heightened by an unease on the part of John Aldridge.

Continually berated on his scoring record, Aldridge has expressed fears that he may be dropped for the game against Holland.

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