KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Football fans were deeply shocked Tuesday to learn about the death of legendary midfielder Kamal Abdelwahhab, widely known with the nickname: “The Doctor of Sudanese Football.”
Kamal had earned this funny title because before he appeared on the football scene, the football fans believed the sport was sick and was in dire need for new talents to cure it. And when Kamal moved to the football giants Almerrikh, he brought something unusual in terms of skill and manners, so the fans and the press nicknamed him “Doctor Kamal.”
On the pitch he was like a seasoned surgeon who knew where and how to cut through the defenses of the rival team and put convenient passes to his team attackers.
“Football is in the head here, not only in the feet,” shouted yet another football legendary midfielder, Ezz Eddin Aldehaish from among the spectators when he saw how accurate, sweeping and effective Kamal’s passes were to the attackers.
Older football fans would not forget how ‘the Doctor’ took Sudan to the Munich Olympics 1972.
It was a decisive match in Addis Ababa between Sudan and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian side was leading 1/0 and the Ethiopian fans were dancing and singing, sure they would go to Munich.
Kamal continued to supply his forwards with excellent passes, but the Ethiopian defense would not permit.
Five minutes before the final whistle, Kamal decided to do it all by himself. He received the ball, waded through a congestion of Ethiopian midfielders and defenders, skipped them one by one until he faced the goalkeeper, who tried to stop him. Kamal could have placed the ball easily at the back of the net. But no! He moved towards the keeper, overtook him, and scored the equalizer that took Sudan to Munich.
The once jealous Ethiopian fans were soon to change sides after they saw Kamal’s art. And instead of shouting contempt after the game was over, they rushed towards Kamal, carried him on their shoulders, singing and dancing.
Older football fans would also never forget a famous clash between Mirrikh and FC Fatima of the Central African Republic.
Fatima had defeated Mirrikh 3/0 in the home match. They came to Omdurman sure to qualify for the next stage of the African Champions League.
But Kamal who missed the first match was present this time. A few minutes into play Kamal artfully assisted two goals for his side. The guests soon read the writing on the wall and pulled out shouting “magic..magic!”
Mirrikh fans also remember Kamal to have helped their team to win the 1972 First Division trophy without a defeat or a draw, an achievement commended in the FIFA journal. The next year the team won the trophy without a defeat and with a single draw.
Kamal was not like any player. He never played for money. Nobody can remember when his contract with Mirrikh had expired or was renewed. He would routinely go to the premises of the Football Association and re-sign for Mirrikh, the club he loved too much.
Always well dressed and trimmed, Kamal would turn heads wherever he went.
As an employee of the Barclays Bank, he enjoyed both job and financial satisfaction. His trademark Volkswagen limousine distinguished him from young men his age and from other football players.
Footballer Kamal was born in the Abu Anja neighborhood of Omdurman. He was educated at the Evangelical schools in his hometown. He was invited for the National Team when he was just a nascent player with the Abu Anja second division club in 1969.
In 1970 he was part of the squad that won Sudan the African Cup of Nations for the first and last time in its history.
To honour him the Mirrikh artists built a statue for him in the club yard.
During an honorary ceremony held for him at the Club premises, his schoolmate and footballer Fawzi Almardi, who played for Mirrikh archrivals Alhilal club, said it was the second time for him to trod into the Mirrikh Club. “That is because of Kamal,” said Fawzi, who was known to continue to tease Kamal during the Hilal-Mirrikh clashes until when Kamal would attack him in fury and receive a yellow or red card.
The late Kamal died aged 70 of a long disease. God rest his noble soul in peace.
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