Ismaily (Arabic: النادي الإسماعيلي الرياضي ; transliterated: El Nady ElIsmaily El Reyady) is a Sporting club, established in 1924 as Nahda Sporting Club, based in Ismaïlia, Egypt. The club is best known for its football team. And it is famously known in Africa as the Africa ٍSamba Boys.
Ismaily SC won the Egyptian Football League in 1967, 1991 and 2002, as well as the Egyptian Cup in 1997 and 2000. In 1969 the club won the CAF Champions League. It reached the final of the Champions League again in 2003, but lost to Enyimba FC of Nigeria.
Also Ismaily is well-known with the skillful players & with the enjoyable soccer but without scoring championships. Ismaily continues to face difficult circumstances in building and maintaining a team in a country where most of the population cheers for one of the two giants. Ismaily's superstar players often end up at one of the two giants, with or against the club's will. For example, Al Ahly's current starting lineup currently has four of Ismaily's 2002 league-winning players (Mohamed Barakat, Islam el Shater, Ahmed Fathi, and Emad el Nahas).
It all started back in 1920, more than 80 years ago, when the idea of starting an Egyptian club in the city of Ismailia was born. In 1921, this dream became reality when the Nahda Sporting Club (now Ismaily) was founded thanks to generous donations and hard work. The Nahda was the first Egyptian club in the Canal zone; all other clubs were strictly foreign.
The club’s location is where the Friday market is today. It wasn’t until 1926 that the club became an official member of the Egyptian Football Federation.
The club’s initial state was quite modest. Inside the club’s brick wall, there existed only a field of sand, one changing room, and a small hut. Of course, the residents of Ismailia were not satisfied; the hut was removed and replaced by a small building in 1931, and grass was planted on the pitch. Expansion continued in 1943, when the club purchased a 15,000 square-meter piece of land and moved there.
Building the club required money, and a total sum of 6453 L.E. was collected from local families and businesses. Here is a list of the most generous contributors:
- Contractor Mohamed Ali Ahmed contributed 357 L.E.
- Dr. Soleiman Eid and Saleh Eid contributed 500 L.E.
- Hajj Mohamed Mohamed Soliman contributed 100 L.E.
- Sayed Abu Zeid El Menyawy contributed 100 L.E.
- Sheikh Ahmed Atta contributed 75 L.E.
- Hajj Mohamed Sahmoud and Fahmy Michael contributed 30 L.E.
- Hajj Ahmed Ali El Menyawy contributed 25 L.E.
- Foreigner Banyooty Fasolis contributed 20 L.E.
The first to game take place in the new pitch was between Ismaily and the English Army Team (Canal). The new club was officially opened on the 11th of April in 1947. A celebration party was organized for this event. A friendly game was played on this day between Ismaily and the Farouk First Club (now Zamalek). Ismaily won the game 3/2.
Ismaily’s lineup was: Yango, Sayed Abu Greisha, Salem Salem, Ali Hegazy, Anoos El Kebir, Mohamed Abdel Salam, Aly Lafy, Ahmed Mansour, Ibrahim Hablos, Sayed Charley, Awad Abdel Rahman.
The First Title:
It wasn't until forty-four years after Ismaily was founded that the Daraweesh finally achieved their first title. Ismaily had been slowly climbing to the top after returning to the Premier League, but it all came together in the 66/67 season.
Salah Abu Greisha Like every other League title Ismaily won, a long and hard battle was fought against Ahly throughout the season. Ismaily secured the title however, after defeating Ahly by Ali Abu Greisha's penalty-spot goal, two weeks before the end of the season.
The 66/67 season had 22 weeks. Ismaily won 15 games, tied 6, and lost one against Ahly. The Daraweesh scored 34 goals and conceded 17. Ali Abu Greisha was the leading scorer with 15 goals; Shehta, Sayed Abdel Razek, and Reeo scored 4 each; Sayed Hamed, El Araby, Tarboush, Mostafa Darwish, and Mohamed Maaty each scored once.
Coach Thompson Salah Abu Greisha coached the team for the first half of the League, but after a few shaky performances, Eng. Osman Ahmed Osman traveled to London, and returned with Ismaily's first ever foreign coach: English Thompson. Thompson worked with Salah Abu Greisha to keep the team in top form.
Ismaily's results for the season:
Masry (3-1, 1-0) Zamalek (1-1, 2-1) Tayran (2-0, 1-1) Ittihad (1-0, 2-1) Domyat (2-0, 1-0) Olympic Club (1-0, 3-1) Ahly (1-3[only defeat], 1-0) Suez (1-0, 0-0) Seka (2-1, 1-0)
The African Victory:
In 1969, Ismaily became the first Egyptian and Arab team to become the African Champion.
After the League victory of 1967, Ismaily entered the African Champions League of 1969, despite gruelling local conditions following the war. Ismaily made it to the top, undefeated, and won the title in Cairo Stadium, which was packed over-capacity.
Ali Abu Greisha Ismaily played 8 games, winning 5 of them and tieing three. A total of 22 goals were scored; Ali Abu Greisha scored 8, Sayed "Bazooka" scored 6, Amiro scored 4, Hendawy scored 2, and Anoos and Senary each scored 1. Only 9 goals were scored in Ismaily's goal. Ismaily was being coached by Ali Osman and Salah Abu Greisha at the time.
Ismaily also participated in the next African Champions League as defending Champion, and borrowed several players from other Egyptian clubs. Despite this, Ismaily was knocked out in the Semi-Finals by a Ghanaian team.
Ismaily then participated in the following tournament (the 7th), but was once again eliminated by the same team. In the eighth tournament, Ismaily was eliminated early by the Ahly of Lobya. In the ninth tournament, Ismaily made it to the Quarter Finals but was then forced to withdraw due to the October war.
Ismaily would not play any African championships for several years, until participating in the African Cup of Cup Winners. Ismaily was knocked out in the Semi-Finals by Ahly.
Amiro Ismaily participated in the Champions League again in 1990, but was eliminated in the Semi-Finals by Al Hilal of Sudan.
In 1995, in the Cup of Cup Winners, Ismaily was eliminated by Asec Abidjan after an embarrassing 5-1 loss. In the CAF Cup a few years later, Ismaily achieved second place, after Shabibat Al Kaba'il of Algeria after tieing 1-1 at home and 0-0 away.
The Second Domestic Title:
It took 24 years for Ismaily to win the League a second time. In the 1990/1991 season, Ismaily won their second Egyptian League title. Ismaily defeated Ahly 2-0 in a decisive match in Mahala Stadium to win the longest (and hardest) season in the history of Egyptian soccer.
The competition was between Ahly, Zamalek, and Ismaily. Ismaily played 35 matched, including the final match against Ahly. The team had 53 points, and scored 47 goals. The team won 20 matches: Port Fouad 4-0 Tersana 1-0 Olympic 3-0 Sekka 2-1 and 1-0 Mansoura 3-0 Mahala 2-1 Ittihad 4-0 and 1-0 Mokawiloon 3-0 Al Minya 2-0 Aswan 2-0 and 1-0 Al Kroum 1-0 and 2-0 Suez 3-0 and 1-0 Shibeen 1-0 and 3-0 Ahly (decisive match) 2-0
The team tied 13 matches against: Marreekh, Zamalek, Ahly, Mokawiloon, Mansoura (1-1); Al Minya, Mahala, Port Fouad, Olympic, Masry(0-0).
Ismaily lost twice, once to Ahly and once to Tersana, 1-0.
Fekry El Sagheer was the top scorer for the Daraweesh, scoring a total of 13 goals. Besheer Abdel Samad scored 6, Atef Abdel Aziz scored 4, Yaser Ezzat and Hamza El Gamal scored 3, Ayman Ragab and Mohamed Salah Abu Greisha and Adham El Selehdar scored 2, and each of Shams Hamed, Hamadah Marzouk, Essam Abdel Al and Ahmed Kinawy scored 1.
The First Cup:
Ismaily fans had experienced the League and the African Championship titles, so it was natural to expect a Cup victory soon. Ismaily won its first Cup title in the 1996-1997 season.
Ismaily faced several hard matches in the playoff. In the quarter finals, Ismaily faced Zamalek in Ismailia Stadium and barely managed a 4-3 victory, with the last goal being scored in extra time. Ahmed Fekry and Magdy el Sayad each scored two. Ismaily then faced Port Fouad, the Black Horse of the tournament. Ismaily defeated Port Fouad 2-0 in Port Said; Ahmed Fekry scored both.
The final game was against Ahly in Cairo Stadium. Almost all Egyptian soccer fans expected a Red victory. Earlier that season, Ahly had crushed Ismaily 6-0 at home, which had resulted in the replacement of the team's Board of Directors. It seemed that Ismaily was not ready to take on Ahly. The match also witnessed the return of star defender Hamza El Gamal, who had been playing in Kuwait for one year.
Surprisingly, Ismaily defeated Ahly by Ahmed Fekry's famous goal: a beautiful shot from outside the 18-yard box.
Ismaily was coached by Ali Abu Greisha and Ismail Hefny at the time.
The Second Cup:
Ismaily fans had to wait only three more years for the second Egyptian Cup victory. Ismaily was crowned Egyptian Cup Champion for the second time in history in the 1999-2000 season.
It seemed only fair that Ismaily should win at least this competition that season. Ismaily played an excellent season beginning the League’s second half, and ended up second, narrowing the gap between them and Ahly to six points.
After that, however, the team was totally dedicated to winning the Cup. In the quarter finals, Ismaily defeated Mansoura 2-0 in Ismailia Stadium. The two goals were African: Mamado Kita scored the first and John Otaka added the second. In the semis, Ismaily faced Ahly in Ismailia in a historical game. Ismaily was fired up to win the Cup; Ahly wanted to avenge a 4-3 loss in the same stadium a few months prior to this game.
The match ended 4-2 for Ismaily. Mohamed Barakat and John Otaka each scored two goals.
In the finals, Ismaily met Mokawiloon, who had eliminated Zamalek in the semis. However, Mokawiloon was no match for Ismaily’s spirit and talent, and despite playing an excellent match, lost 4-0. John Otaka and Barakat each scored once, and Mohamed Salah Abu Greisha scored two.
The following players participated in the Cup that season: Abdel Kader El Brazy, Ibrahim Farag, Mohamed Sobhy, Islam El Shater, Ayman Ramadan, Emad El Nahas, Reda Seka, Mohamed Younis, Sayed Moawwad, Hamam Ibrahim, Mohamed Hommos, Hossam Abdel Al, Saad Abdel Baky, Ahmed Salem, Mohamed Barakat, Ayman El Gamal, Tarek Fahiem, Mamado Kita, John Otaka, Sayed Ghareib, Khaled Bebo, Mohamed Salah Abu Greisha.
Mohsen Saleh managed the team, and was assisted by Mahmoud Gaber and Besheer Abdel Samad.
The Osman Ahmed Osman family has played a major role in the development of the club. Five out of the club's six tournaments were won under the leadership of an Osman-family member. The club's first golden era, in which two tournaments were secured (Egyptian League and African Champions League), was established under the leadership of Osman Ahmed Osman, who continued to reside as President of the club for several years after that. Between 1996-2004, the Osman family entered the scene once again. This time, it was the second generation of Osman's leading the club. Osman Ahmed Osman's nephew, Ismail Osman, acted as Club President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, while three of Osman's sons, Ibrahim Osman, Ahmed Osman, and Mahmoud Osman, held seats in the Board. In particular, Ibrahim Osman held the post of Vice President and was given the responsibility of running the club's football team and youth school. During this period, the team effectively doubled it's tournament chest by winning three tournaments: the Egyptian Cup twice (1997, 2000) and the Egyptian League once (2002). In addition, the team became a powerful regional/continental force, reaching advanced stages of several African club competitions (2nd place in CAF Cup 2000, semi-finals of CAF Cup Winner's Cup 2001, and the 2nd place in CAF Champions League 2003, as well 2nd place in the first Arab Champions League, 2004). Most of this team's players ended up either abroad or at the two local rivals (Ahly/Zamalek), sometimes after an expired contract and sometimes after a direct sale. The club also fell victim to massive financial problems, prompting the resignation of the Osman family. Fans have debated fiercely about this sequence of events, with some blaming the Osman family for the club's problems, while others defending the administration as a highlight in the club's history. Since no tournaments have been achieved since their departure, many fans currently call for a return of Osman administration.