Being a goalkeeper is never easy. As the last line of defence, the goalkeeper is often the only thing that stands between a win and a defeat. One save at the right time can be the catalyst for your team to go on to victory or one error can lead to disaster. Ex-Egypt international goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is a hugely experienced goalkeeper with a distinguished career behind him, regarded as one of the best African goalkeepers of all time. Having represented his country 138 times since 1996, El-Hadary has played most of his career in Africa for a variety of teams. But in a game last Sunday, he made a mistake that has left football fans baffled.
A controversal figure through out his career, El-Hadary was once caught up in a scandal after he agreed to join FC Sion of Switzerland despite his club at the time, Al-Ahly disputing the transfer. FIFA stepped in and the goalkeeper left to join the Swiss club, only to banned from international football for 4 months by FIFA the following year after it was revealed that he was indeed still under contract with Al-Ahly at the time of his signing. FC Sion for their part were also banned from registering any players for a period of 2 years by FIFA in 2009 and later excluded from the Europa League by UEFA after fielding ineligible players in their play-off victory over Celtic who had all been signed during this 2 year period.
El-Hadary left Sion after only 1 year at the club and 32 appearances and signed for Egyptian Premier League side, Ismaily. A further move to Zamalek SC followed before he settled down in Sudan with club side, Al-Merreikh. Despite a unsucessful attempts to get out of his contract and a poor trial at Hull City. El-Hadary has stayed with the Sudanese club and helped them to win their league last year and reach the semi-final of the African Confederations Cup this season. It was in the first leg of the semi finals match against Congolese team AC Leopard de Dolisie that El-Hadary made a fatal mistake that cost his team the game. Drawing 1-1 at the time, El-Hadary collected a seemingly easy cross turn shot from one of the Leopard de Dolisie players. After grabbing the ball, he appeared to bounce the ball on the line in front of him with AC Leopard striker Cesaire Ganze, standing just a yard away. The striker couldn’t believe his luck and nipped in to strike the ball into the net, costing Al-Merreikh the game.
It looks at first glance as a goalkeeping howler but on closer look, it appears as though he is looking for Ganze to score, leading to speculation of whether he intended to let them score. Match fixing is a huge problem across football and especially in Africa so incidents like this are usually looked into by FIFA carefully. Could El-Hadary have deliberately let his side lose due to a before the match bet he had placed or was this simply a case of a goalkeeping howler due to arrogance on the part of El-Hadary? Only time will tell but for us here, this doesn’t look like the type of mistake a seasoned, former internationalist with 138 caps for his country would make.
Watch for youself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj7HdE2SLiU