JOHANNESBURG - For the second time seven days, Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has lamented his instructions to striker Amr Gamal being lost in translation.
The Clever Boys mentor feels the Egyptian, on a season-long loan from Al Ahly, would be much more clinical if he followed orders.
“He doesn’t understand me,” Hunt said following their Telkom Knockout quarterfinal win on Saturday night, their passage to the next round of the competition secured by Gamal’s solitary first half strike.
“He’s got a totally different mentality to what he’s used to. There is one man and a dog watching him here when he’s used to playing in front of 60000 every week at Al Ahly. He is in the Egyptian World Cup squad.
"The players around him are (Mohammed) Salah and these other guys. It’s a bit of a shock to the system coming here.”
But even with those dynamics and adapting to a different culture as well as playing style, Gamal has shown he is prolific, having now scored five goals in 11 matches in all competitions for Wits.
“But here you’ve got to work, my friend. I don’t have Salah and these other ones in midfield that are going to give you the ball on a plate like that. You’ve got to work a little bit harder here,” Hunt continued.
“I think if he stayed in the box a little bit more he’d be much better. But he moves a little too much. He’s even got me talking Arabic.”
The two have been seen in frequent deep discussions during matches as Hunt tries to get his message across to the 26-year-old. But they often appear to be using their hands to communicate, giving credence to the coach’s point that his forward doesn’t yet understand him.
“He’s missed a lot of chances, like the one he missed against Baroka in our league game. My daughter could have scored that. There was another one against Cape Town City in the semifinal of the MTN8,” Hunt said.
“But listen, we need these type of players. They bring a great mentality. At Al Ahly, their mentality is good. I think our players can learn a lot from them. Maybe they can learn a lot from our movements, but he gives a lot to the team.”
Gamal was the club’s Man of the Match in their 4-2 win over hoodoo side Free State Stars two Saturdays ago in the opening round of the cup, scoring twice in an impressive display.
It was after that game that Hunt first noted that his striker still had a lot of work to do. The conversation naturally came up again after he netted the only goal of the game a week later against Baroka and was applauded by just about the entire crowd when James Keene took his place in the 83rd minute.
Gamal’s chances of playing for Egypt at next year’s World Cup in Russia also keep improving with his form here. On Wednesday he was included in coach Hector Cuper’s squad to face Ghana in a dead-rubber World Cup qualifier in Kumasi on November 12 .
The Pharaoh’s have already booked their place at the tournament as one of Africa’s five participants.