Ahmed Haytham writes a detailed scout report about Zamalek FC’s talented young midfielder, Mostafa Fathi.
Who is Mostafa Fathi?
Mostafa Fathi started playing football at the age of 7. He used to play in his village and his hometown El Mansoura. He played in Meet Mazah’s youth side before he was offered a chance to play in Belkas Club which was definitely a step in the right direction as Belkas played in the Second Division at the time.
During his period at Belkas, he rarely started any matches because he was physically weak at the time.
Mohamed Sabry, former Zamalek player and the current coach of Nabarouh, once saw Mostafa playing in a friendly game before Iftar in the month Ramadan. Mohamed Sabry stated that Mostafa was one of the most talented young players he had ever seen.
Mohamed Sabry offered the young lad the opportunity of a trial in Nabarouh and he spent 15 days training with the team. Sabry wanted to test him against bigger teams so he arranged a friendly match with Al Masry which is a First Division side in Egypt and one of the top teams. Mostafa played only 30 minutes but that was enough to showcase his talent and later that day Al Masry offered to buy Mostafa.
The following day Sabry called Helmy Toulan ( Zamalek’s manager at the time ) and offered to play a friendly game against Al Zamalek to let him see Mostafa and maybe sign him up. Sabry said that it didn’t take a lot of time until Helmy Toulan was eager to sign the kid. Mostafa Fathi has become a Zamalek player since 2013 and signed a contract for 250,000 EP, which is not a lot of money.
Mostafa became a fan favorite after his debut goal against Essam El Hadary of Wadi Degla. Essam El Hadry is arguably the best goalkeeper in Egypt’s history and was named by Didier Drogba as his best opponent ever. This goal is special not only because it was during the dying moments of the game, but also because of the humiliating way that Mostafa scored that goal. Since then fans all over Egypt gave him the nickname of “El Safel” which means that he has no morals because of the humiliation his opponents have to deal with in every game.
Mostafa has won the Egyptian Premier League once and the Egyptian cup twice with Al Zamalek. He’s played a total of 69 games (starting in only 28 of them) since 2013 and scored 12 goals.
He is a regular starter in the U23 national team (Olympic team) and he had the chance to represent the first team twice. His international first team debut was against Tanzania but he only played for less than 20 minutes. He subsequently put on amazing display against Chad in the World Cup Qualifiers. He was voted Man Of The Match, made 1 assist and 4 nutmegs (And yes, Egyptians count how many nutmegs Mostafa makes after every game).
Style of play, strengths, and weaknesses
As a left-footed winger, Mostafa plays regularly on the right flank as an inside forward, which enables him to cut inside and shoot or cross the ball to the striker.
Mostafa has so many qualities to cover but we will start with his dribbling. His ability to pass defenders with pace and quick feet make him stand out on the pitch. Combining them with his outstanding agility and the fact that he can change directions whenever he wants, makes it a hard task for defenders in 1 on 1 or even 2 on 1 situations.
As mentioned above, Egyptians do count the Nutmegs after every game as a part of his stats, which just goes to show how skilful the lad is with the ball at his feet. He is the kind of player that thinks outside of the box when he faces defenders. In this clip of his play against Wadi Degla, you can observe his ability to place nutmegs not for the sake of showing off, but to build the attack and to create an opportunity.
Mostafa is also considered one of the fastest players in Egypt. In the opinion of this writer, the young Egyptian uses his pace in the best way possible with and without the ball. When he runs at full speed behind the defenders searching for a through ball to put him 1 on 1 with the goal, only rapid defenders have a chance of stopping this play. His runs without the ball are very special to be honest, when he sees space behind defenders he runs automatically behind them.
In the goal he scored against Al Helal you can see his pace, control and his self-confidence to break out and to go directly for a goal
The lad is also well known for his powerful shot. When he cuts inside and decides to take a shot, his shot immediately causes all sorts of problems to the goalkeeper and defence. He also has the ability to shoot with both feet which makes him a great threat to the keepers.
Combining powerful shots with accuracy is a rare thing in football nowadays. Mostafa showed that he can combine them on more than one occasion, the first one was against Itihad Al Shorta to secure the win with an amazingly placed volley in the 87th minute. Another occasion was when he scored against the South African side Orlando Pirates to help his team take the lead in the 83rd minute of the game with a perfect shot.
His passing is decent with a pass accuracy of 81% and more than 340 successful passes. Assist-wise he only assisted 2 times but he created 15 chances (in the 2014-2015 season). A particular highlight was against El Masry, he literally took on 4 players on his own and ended with a back heel pass to Bassem Morsy who finished it off with his weak foot. Mostafa’s crosses also create danger in the box with a successful cross percentage of 61% out of 28 total attempts.
In modern football, wingers must contribute in defence too, which Mostafa is surprisingly good at despite his weak physique. Thanks to his pace, it’s a nightmare for any attacker if Mostafa is tracking him back. He makes it a hard job for the opposition when pressing because of his pace and his determination to win the ball. He has 64 interceptions to his name last season but he only committed 8 fouls.
But of course, no player is perfect. On that note, we look at his weaknesses.
Standing at a height of 1.60 meters, he rarely wins any headers or duels with his opponents and most often gets bullied off the ball. But he’s smart to cover up this weak side of his game by winning fouls, and he gets fouled a lot per game.
Another thing to note, is his 1 on 1 with keepers. His finishing touch when he gets through on goal isn’t that clinical to be honest. He rushes his decision of taking the shot, so most of the time the ball beats the keeper but doesn’t hit the target.
As mentioned Mostafa’s weak foot (Right foot) is strong and accurate most of the time, but he prefers using the outside of his boot which delivers less accurate passes instead of using his right foot. Though this is a tendency that he will probably change with time.
What does the future hold?
Mostafa signed a contract with Al Zamalek for 5 years in 2013 so he has 3 years left on his contract. Mostafa is considered the hottest prospect in football right now in Egypt. One hopes that Mostafa continues to develop his talents to be able to play in any European side because he seems to have what it takes to make it abroad.
Written by Ahmed Haytham
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