Football in Egypt is like a religion. Wherever you go you will find people talking football, be it the local eternal rivalry between Cairo and Africa giants Al Ahly and Zamalek, or even debating about European leagues, with Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah normally being the center of talks.
But in recent years, women football has gradually came into spotlight, with the likes of Egyptian Women League champions Wadi Degla forcing their name among the daily Cairo football debates. Despite having a men’s team that played regularly in the Egyptian Premier League since 2010, they unfortunately were relegated to First Division last season.
But on the contrary from their men’s team, Wadi Degla women has been on the other side of their league’s table. Last season saw the Yellow-Blacks winning their 12th Egyptian Women League title, and the 11th in a row, cementing their status as undoubtedly the most successful side in Egyptian women football.
Earning automatic qualification to the maiden edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women Champions League, Egypt 2021 as hosts, Wadi Degla are dreaming of extending their domestic dominance to the continental front this time. Playing at home in the tournament scheduled from 5 – 19 November 2021 at Cairo based 30 June Stadium and Military Academy Stadium will definitely boast Wadi Degla chances.
Leading their hopes will be Alia Zenouki. The talented winger has proved to be one of Wadi Degla’s most prominent stars in recent years. Born in Cairo on 15 June 1997, Alia had an illustrious career to the moment.
“I started playing football at school. We used to play various sports with the boys, but when it was time for football, they refused to play with us and said it’s a boys’ game,” Alia told CAFOnline.com. “So one time I told them you just play better because you used to play football since a long time, but if I play for the same time I’ll be better then you. That was when I started training and that’s how my football career started.”
Women football might be not the same popular as the men’s game in Egypt. Many parents see it as something not usual, but Aliaa was lucky enough to have a different case. “I was so happy to find full support from my family and close friends. They were a bit astonished at the beginning why should I play football because I was already doing well in other sports. But they supported my decision and backed me with everything”, she added.
A stubborn girl, Aliaa describes herself and thinks this helped her moving on. “I listened to criticism openly and changed that to power and determination. The support of my family and friends helped me moving on till I reached what I am nowadays,” added the Wadi Degla winger.
The 24-year-old had her all her career under the Yellow-Black colors. “I started at the Arsenal Academy in Wadi Degla, but later we stopped because of the school exams. One time the coach of the youth team saw me and asked me to join, and it was the first step. From there I started my career to the first team and Egypt’s national team too,” she added.
Having won numerous titles on the domestic scene, and playing for the Lady Pharaohs, Alia sees winning international titles as her new target. “I always wished that we promote and develop our game to the international level. This CAF Women Champions League is a great addition and will help us to play against big teams and gain a lot of experience. It will also encourage all Egyptian clubs to have their women teams to play on the continental level, and this will make the next domestic leagues more competitive and exciting,” Alia explained.
Wadi Degla were drawn in Group A of the upcoming TotalEnergies CAF Women Champions League with Mali’s AS Mande, Equatorial Guinea’s Malabo King's and Ghana’s Hassacas Ladies. “With God’s will, we will do our best. Our focus will be to go to the semifinals first, and from there we will play to win the title,” concluded Alia.