Amr Fahmy
Last updated: 3 September, 2012

Seven spotlights on the legend of the General

Until Egypt qualifies for World Cup, football fans in the country will remember Mahmoud El Gohary as the only coach who could make the dream possible in the era of live TV transmission.

Egypt appeared in the World Cup twice when Italy hosted the tournament in both 1934 and 1990, the latter, under El Gohary’s guidance. In fact, he even inspired a pop song after his name when he took the Egyptian team to the championship in Italy.

El Gohary, nicknamed the General because of his military background, had successful spells inside and outside Egypt at both club and international level.

We have summarized his career in seven highlights, illustrating the glory moments of the man who passed away in Amman on Monday at the age of 74.


Egypt hosted the African Cup of Nations for the first time and El Gohary showed lethal touches in front of the goal, scoring three times to top the tournament charts.

The Pharaohs retained their continental crown and El Gohary won his first ever African title.


El Gohary took over at Al-Ahly, the club of his glory days as a player, and won the African Champions League for the first time after a 4-1 aggregate win in the final over Ghana giants Asante Kotoko.


In charge of the Egyptian national team, El Gohary ended 56 years World Cup absence as the Pharaohs edged arch rivals Algeria 1-0 to reach the 1990 finals in Italy.


Egypt snatched a surprise 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in their World Cup opener but offered an ultra defensive display to hold the Republic of Ireland to a 0-0 stalemate. Even before losing 0-1 to England, El Gohary became famous for his defensive approach employed against the Irish.

El Gohary was also criticized for not using talented playmaker Taher Abu Zaid who remained on the bench for most of the tournament.


The General, in charge of Al-Ahly’s bitter rivals Zamalek, won his second African Champions League title and once again at the expense of Asante Kotoko but this time on penalty shootout.


After a disappointing World Cup qualification campaign, El Gohary led Egypt to their fourth continental crown in Burkina Faso beating South Africa 2-0 in the final, conceding only one goal in all six matches.

El Gohary became the first ever African to win the tournament as both player and coach and also took credit for the superb form of striker Hossam Hassan who scored seven goals.


The General took Jordan to their first ever Asian Cup appearance in China 2004 and went, unexpectedly, as far as the quarterfinals where his team only lost by penalty shootout to eventual champions Japan after a 1-1 draw.