Ismaily’s African victory that healed Egypt’s post-67 wounds



Tue, 06 Feb 2018 - 06:18 GMT


Tue, 06 Feb 2018 - 06:18 GMT

magazine headlines after the game( Ismaily, the African Champions after defeating Anglbert 3-1)

magazine headlines after the game( Ismaily, the African Champions after defeating Anglbert 3-1)

CAIRO – 6 February 2018: Egyptian football fans have witnessed many great days throughout their vast history, and one of them was Ismaily’s 3-1 victory over Congo’s Englebert in the 1969 African Champions League final, making them the first Egyptian team to win the title.

This victory had a great significance in raising the spirits of all Egyptians at that time, whichever team they supported, as it was the biggest national achievement since the 1967 war and was a revival to the Egyptian football that stopped after the war.

Ismaily, founded in 1924, suffered in the late 1950s after relegation in 1958, before they got promoted in 1963 thanks to a group of great players like Mohamed Sedik (known as Shehta), Mohamed Morsy, (known as Reda), Sayed Abdel Monem (known as El Araby), Mostafa Darwish and Mimi Darwish.

Mimi and Mostafa Darwish were behind Ismaily’s current nickname, El-Daraweesh.

Four years later, Ismaily achieved their first league title in 1967, defeating the Cairo giants – Al-Ahly, Zamalek and Tersana – and they were the last team to win the league before the war.

CaptureksajdhhsadFILE-Ismaily players who achieved their first league title

After the war, the domestic competitions were cancelled, and the Canal teams emigrated from the war zone to the capital.

Ismaily camped in Cairo, and Zamalek Stadium hosted their games, but the club president at that time, Othman Ahmed Othman, decided to send the team for a tour abroad to play some friendly games to raise funds in support of the military.

Ismaily travelled to the gulf to play against the national teams and they called some players from other teams, like AL-Ahly’s Refaat El Fanagily, Tersana’s Mostafa Eiyad and Ezz El Dein Yaakoub from the Olympic Club.


Ismaily returned to Egypt after playing 17 games, and the players received the Order of the Republic from then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Ismaily, the league title holders, participated in the African Champions League to become the second Egyptian League to participate in such a competition after Olympic Club, who reached the 1967 Champions League quarter-finals but withdrew after the war started.

Ismaily opened their participation in the competition on October 12, defeating Libya’s Al-Tahaddy 5-0 in Libya. Amiro Darwish scored a hat trick, while Sayed Abel Razek (known as Bazzoka) and Ali Abo Grisha scored the other two goals.


On October 19, Ismaily won the second leg 3-0 thanks to goals by Amiro, Bazzoka and Ali Abo Grisha. Two thousand fans attended the game that was played in Zamalek Stadium.

Ismaily faced Kenya’s Gor Mahia in the quarter-finals. Ismaily won the first leg in Kenya 3-1 thanks to a hat trick from Ali Abo Grisha, and the second leg at Zamalek Stadium ended with a 1-1 draw. Bazzoka scored Ismaily’s only goal in that game.

The semi-finals draw put Ismaily against Ghana’s Asante Kotoko, and El-Daraweesh returned from Ghana with a 2-2 draw. Abo Grisha and Abdel Rahman Anoos scored the two goals.

In the second leg, Ismaily won 3-2 to secure their qualification to the final. Abdel Aziz Henday scored two goals and Abo Grisha scored the third one.

Ismaily became the first Egyptian team to reach the final, and all the Egyptian fans felt that they were closer than ever to achieving the precious title.

Ismaily’s opponent in the final was Congo’s giant, Englebert, who achieved the last two titles, and everyone on the continent expected them to achieve their third title in a row.

Ismaily travelled to Congo to play the first leg on December 21, 1969. Ismaily managed to return home with a 2-2 draw. Hendawy and Bazzoka scored the two goals and they started to prepare for the final two weeks later.

All Egyptian fans were behind Ismaily, as they were the team that found a way to succeed despite the difficult circumstances, and everyone believed that this victory would return happiness to the war-torn hearts.

Ismaily players wanted to play the final at Zamalek Stadium, which hosted all their home games in the competition, but Othman Ahmed Othman decided to play the final at Cairo Stadium, as he believed that Cairo Stadium’s capacity of 80,000 would encourage fans to attend the game.

Before the game, the Egyptian Olympic Committee granted Ismaily players LE 1,000 to motivate them to win the final, while the Public Transport Authority in Cairo decreased the price of tickets before the game to encourage fans to go to the stadium.

The game was played on January 9, 1970 at 2:30 PM (CLT) and 120,000 fans packed the stadium to cheer the Ismaily players.

Ismaily manager Ali Othman’s starting line-up for the game consisted of Hassan Mokhtar, Amin Ibrahim, Morsy Senary, Hoda Liston, Mimi Darwish, Nasr El Sayed, Sayed Hamed, Refaat Ragab (known as Reeo), Abdel Rahman Anoos, Bazzoka and Ali Abo Grisha.

Except for Reeo, who was born in Cairo, all the starting line-up players were born in Ismailia and lost their friends and left their homes during the war, and they were ready to destroy their opponent.

Ismaily players dominated the game since its start, and Al Abo Grisha ran the show in front of the enthusiastic fans.

Abo Grisha opened the score after 30 minutes, after he tricked four defenders and the goalkeeper to put the ball in the back of the net.

Englebert players created many chances to score the equalizer, but they failed in the first half’s remaining minutes.

Englebert equalized the score six minutes after the start of the second half with a strike from inside the box, making the score 1-1.

Abo Grisha won a penalty nine minutes later, after he was tackled by an Englebert defender, and Bazooka converted it into a goal to make the score 2-1.

Ali Othman substituted Reeo for Amiro, who dominated the right flank and created many chances to score.

Bazooka secured Ismaily’s title when he scored the third goal two minutes before the final whistle, and the game ended 3-1 for the Egyptians.

The fans invaded the pitch after the final whistle to celebrate the glorious victory, and the celebrations started in the whole country after the game.

Ali Abo Grisha was Ismaily’s top goal scorer in the competitions with eight goals, while Bazzoka scored six goals and Amiro scored four.


Since 1970, the Egyptian teams have won 13 titles of the competition, but Ismaily’s victory in 1970 had a special place in Egyptian football fans’ hearts.



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