Al Ahly players held a
minute's silence on Tuesday as they returned to training for the
first time since 74 spectators were killed three weeks ago in a
riot following a match against al-Masry in Port Said.
In a report on their website the club said
some players missed training as they were giving police
statements about the February 1 league game which also left up to
1,000 people injured after supporters of the Cairo club were set
upon at the end of the match.
Training should have resumed last Friday but was postponed
while players received counselling.
Coach Manuel Jose, who has amassed the best record in
African club football during his time with the Cairo giants,
wore a black armband as he took charge.
He said he and the squad were donating some of their
salaries to a fund set up for victims.
The future of midfielder Mohamed Barakat also remained
uncertain after the 35-year-old abruptly retired from the sport
following the riots, saying he was traumatised by the scenes he
The club's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz said he was
still trying to convince Barakat to change his mind.
"Barakat suffered a lot after the horrific disaster in Port
Said. I still consider his decision as an emotional one that was
taken in the heat of the moment," added Abdel-Hafiz.
"Ahly need Barakat who is not only a good player but also an
icon. I will keep in touch with him and we will not give up hope
to convince him to come out of retirement."
Other players, including Mohamed Abou-Treika, Emad Meteab
and Sherif Ekramy, said they would quit unless the culprits of
the violence were brought to justice.
In statements submitted to the police, Jose and his players
said Ahly's footballers were attacked and beaten as they fled
the pitch following a mass invasion at the final whistle and
then watched, cloistered in their changing room, as spectators
died around them.
A resumption of the league is unlikely, Egypt Football
Association caretaker chairman Anwar Saleh told the Al Ahram
newspaper but Al Ahly will participate in the African Champions
"Whether we play any ties at home in the competition will
depend on the approval of security officials," said Ahly's
director of football Sayed Abdelhafiz.
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