Mostafa Asal has caught the eye in squash in recent years, due to his rapid maturity and his intrusion into the world of adults and his superiority over them.
Assal recently crowned the El Gouna Championship and followed it up with the season-ending Eight Grands Championship, placing him third in the world volleyball rankings.
FilGoal.com Asal hosted the Al-Ahly player, who sang in the Red Castle on several occasions, and asked him in detail about the reason for the controversy associated with his name in squash matches, and Assal was very honest in his answers .
You didn’t start squash at your usual age, but after turning ten, how do you enjoy adulthood at twenty-one even though you started squash late?
It was very difficult because I was playing football at the beginning, and squash was not completely in my mind.
It started with my uncle who ran a squash academy, he was a former player in the Egyptian national team, I went with him on a regular summer vacation and saw squash, so I decided to try it and liked it, but I always treated squash as an ordinary football.
It was very difficult at first, but later it got better and I started winning trophies.
Did you quit soccer because you believed squash would give you a better chance of success?
A situation happened with my father that caused me to stay away from football. He always supported me and wanted me to play football, and squash was not on our minds.
But on one occasion the timing of squash practice clashed with a football match. I was playing at Al-Jazira club and we had a match against Wadi Degla. I asked the squash coach if I could practice early, and he told me it wasn’t possible, so I decided to go to the football game against my father’s orders.
I went and had a football match and my mobile phone died and I came back to the club at 2pm, I was 10, and that was my last football (laughs), it was an accident. Then I tried to go back to football, but it was over.
You had a difficult start in squash matches, you lost without getting any points.
In many tournaments I lost all games 11-0, 11-0, 11-0. So I asked my father: Then why did you leave football? Why did you let me play this game? I can’t win any points, I cried. And people started telling my dad not to push me and that I don’t need to be a gamer, but he was stubborn and he got me where I was.
What happened in the scene of your famous storming of the stadium?
I didn’t think she was my mother, I didn’t believe it, I wondered what was happening! It’s not in her nature to do this, and it was the first time, so no one is allowed to enter the stadium.
The strange thing is that she has not accompanied me to training for 5 years, and this is not the first professional championship that I won, but I also won that championship of the big ones last season and she did not.
I knelt and cried and I found my mother behind me, I thought he was the person who would talk to me after the meeting, or even my father, or maybe my coach, I didn’t think it would be my mother don’t be
She was wearing very high heels and was running. My father tried to persuade her to shake hands with the Minister of Youth and Sports, but she quickly shook hands with him and entered the stadium.
She told me it won’t happen if it happens 100 times, it’s a terrible situation.
Do you feel that your soccer personality is reflected in your squash style?
I play in the biggest club in the world, I learned everything in Al-Ahly. I thank his fans for supporting me, and the fans always want the first place. I love football since I was young, I am Ahlawy and I went to the stadium with my family.
I get excited about squash, some say it’s a quiet game, but I don’t want it to be quiet, why not be as excited as football? You have the right to celebrate after 120 minutes, I want to make it very popular.
Does it bother you that some people want to play with fork and knife, feel that it doesn’t fit your personality?
I don’t understand how I can win without reacting, to win a big match against names I didn’t dream of facing, I watched them on TV. Squash needs that spirit and that enthusiasm.
Al-Ahly is distinguished in almost all games, but squash is not among them. What is your reason for choosing Al-Ahly? Is it just because you belong as a fan or does it offer you something different in squash?
I have been cheering for Al-Ahly since my childhood. My whole family supports Al-Ahly. I took Al-Ahly’s notice to school, and on one occasion it caused me a problem. I love the club and the entity.
My love for the club as a fan before I was a player, once I heard they wanted me I was dying to move on. There I met all the support and achieved all my trophies in its ranks.
You always celebrate the celebration of the believer Zakaria, have you met him before?
I met him at the club, and we communicate on Instagram. I give him all my support and I will always follow his celebration. God willing, he will return to delight the fans of Egypt, whether Al-Ahly or Zamalek.
Unlike a Mo’men celebration, in El Gouna I wanted to throw the ball, but couldn’t find a ball, so I threw the racket. Weren’t you afraid that a fan would get hurt?
I’ve done that celebration before. The fans are always waiting for a strange reaction from me at my celebrations after matches. I was afraid the racket would hit the front riders, but I finally did and threw it to the crowd.
Is there a crazy celebration in your head that you are afraid to carry out?
I did all the festivities, I “locked in” all the festivities, I fancied myself winning games and enjoying the celebration. My personality is completely different off the field, but on the field I do these things involuntarily.
You and Hania Al-Hamami won the El Gouna Championship, you are the young generation Do you think there is no concern about Egyptian squash and that future generations can finish what the previous golden generation started?
To be honest, Egypt will never have such big names as it is today, this generation will not be repeated again.
Most of my generation are not in the picture, everyone is traveling to the United States and England on scholarships, it is now the priority of parents. They focus on squash until the age of sixteen, after which they travel to America.
Everyone wants to emulate Ali Farag, who graduated from Harvard and became the world number one, but he is an exception.
Here we have great support from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and sports and studies can be balanced. While in the United States it only plays the college league.
Who is the player you most resemble from the previous generation?
Mohamed El-Shorbagy, advised and guided me from childhood, and I went to El-Gouna to encourage him and watch him.
Also Karim Abdel Gawad, who was with me in Al-Ahly and then went to Wadi Degla.
Speaking of El-Shorbagy, were you surprised by the reaction of the Egyptian public in the Eight Grand Championship after choosing to represent England and the great affection they showed towards him? How do you explain this sympathy?
We were all sad about El Shorbagy’s decision, but in the end it is his decision, it is a dispute between him and the federation of the game, we have nothing to do, he lived there for 16 years.
I was amazed at what happened in the Big Eight tournament. El-Shorbagy is one of us. He won 44 championships in the name of Egypt. He is more than among the Egyptians and has a great history. It was a great sign from the Egyptian public that no one expected.
Do you feel like your matches are always full of refereeing controversies?
It has action (laughs).
Everyone wants to watch my matches whether they support me or not, they always know that drama is guaranteed. Everyone who faces me wants to make big plays, especially because I don’t deal with games with the fact that I’m 21.
When I was young, when I reached the final, I was happy with that and didn’t go to the match. It happened a lot in the juniors and my father almost went crazy.
But in Al-Ahly I knew the value of the first place, especially after the words of Mahmoud Al-Khatib, the club’s president, to me when he saw me happy to honor after winning championships. He always tells me that second place is like last in Al-Ahly, when I first heard that my heart broke.
The matter was repeated after the tournament of the eight majors, and he told me that every tournament we achieve in Al-Ahly, we forget and look at the next one.
Doesn’t it make you sad to be associated in people’s minds with Mustafa Al-Ahlawy’s being and not with your excellent level of squash?
There is a Zamalek audience that also cheers me on. Zamalek does not have a squash team. In El Gouna the masses came from one place. In the Grand Championship, the Al-Ahly and Pyramids match was going on and they watched the two matches together. I had great support and they stood behind me before the many campaigns that were launched against me.
You touched on the campaigns launched against you, what do you think caused this, is it because of your different personality than the rest of the squash community who are not used to the intensity of play?
I don’t know the nature of these campaigns, I hear what happens according to my friends, because I don’t appear much on social networking sites, but I don’t follow anything, either negative or positive, so that it doesn’t affect me personally.
I’ve been hearing a lot lately, and I’ve seen on Facebook the support I’ve received. In the championship of the greats, an audience from the east came to support me.
Do you have differences with any Egyptian player in squash? And what is the reason?
Wallball is an individual game and everyone wants to win. Sometimes there is nervousness on the pitch, especially because I’m 21 years old and I’m facing 32-year-old players, a difference of at least 10 years.
I also rely on psychological games in matches to control the mind of the opponent.
Do you think that the opponent’s exit from the game is in your favor?
Before I was mentally out of games because of the referee objection, but now I focus on the games. I am very good at mental games, and I know how to get out of focus in front of me, there are not many people who can do that, in the past Mohamed El Shorbagy has mastered it.
Your younger brother Marwan also practices squash. Will we see a rivalry between Mustafa and Marwan Assal like the one we saw between Marwan and Muhammad Al-Shorbagy in the future?
Marwan is more skilled than me, he first practiced handball and dodged squash drills (laughs).
He needs to “dry” a bit, he is still young and he is number one in the under-15 ranking.
Years later when the two of you meet, are you going to play mind games with your brother and get him out of your mind?
It can’t, it won’t happen, it’s my brother in the first and the second. I don’t know what would happen if we had this game one day.
I can’t believe how you faced Mohamed and Marwan El Shorbagy before, they played in the final of the 2017 World Championship, and it’s strange, I hope it doesn’t happen to me, because in the end it my brother and it will be hard for the family. I wish I could retire before that happens.
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