Sunday 12 December 2021, 07:00

Ahmed Refaat, Egypt’s super sub

  • Substitute Ahmed Refaat scored vital goal against Jordan

  • Rejoined national team ahead of Qatar 2021 after eight years

  • Forward has netted twice at the tournament

Before the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, Ahmed Refaat had made just a solitary appearance for the Egypt senior team. Back on 14 August 2013, the then 20-year-old came on as a substitute in the second half of a friendly against Uganda at the El Gouna Stadium. Refaat’s absence from the international scene lasted more than eight years, before coach Carlos Queiroz named him in the Pharaohs’ squad for this Arab Cup. His second cap finally arrived when he came off the bench for his side’s opening game against Lebanon at the Al Thumama Stadium. He then started Egypt’s second game against Sudan but sat out the third against Algeria, before entering the fray at the beginning of the first period of extra time in yesterday’s quarter-final against Jordan. With 100 minutes on the clock and the score still 1-1, Refaat latched onto a low cutback from another substitute Mohamed Sherif to steer the ball home from 10 yards and pave the way for a 3-1 victory and a place in the semi-finals.

Speaking to after the win, Refaat said: "It's true that I restored our lead in the game, but that’s my duty, and all my team-mates play their part." "I was determined to do my best and managed to score a goal. Games are not only decided by those who score the goals. There are those who repel opponents’ attacks, and a goalkeeper who makes the saves. There are also the defenders and those who make the assists. We all play with one objective in mind, which is to win games. We’re doing our utmost to help the team,” he added. The 28-year-old believes that his participation at the FIFA Arab Cup has helped enhance his reputation and says his main objective is to continue his international career and help Egypt get results. "I’m happy with my performance at the tournament so far. I’m trying to establish myself in the squad and do my best in order to play more games. I want to play well and be fully focused when I’m on international duty," he said.

Extraordinary goal

Refaat's crucial strike against Jordan, which paved the way for the Pharaohs’ semi-final place, was not his first moment of brilliance at this Arab Cup. His goal against Sudan was truly sublime and a certain contender for goal of the tournament. Just four minutes in, Refaat struck a delightful free-kick with his right foot that came back off the crossbar. A partial clearance by the Sudanese defence fell to him again outside the area, from where he powered a thunderous left-foot volley into the top corner to open his international scoring account in style.

Speaking about that goal, the No7 said: "Luck was on my side with that goal. I certainly trust my right foot but also my left one, because I play with both.” "When the ball came back to me, I didn’t hesitate to direct it again towards goal. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to go in the way it did. That said, I was pleased to score because I struck the free-kick well and, while it didn’t go in directly, I ended up scoring in even better fashion,” he added. Their appetites whetted, Egyptian fans will be hoping for more sumptuous strikes from Refaat in the final week of the FIFA Arab Cup as he continues to shine on his return to the international stage.