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A quality player and coach

A quality player and coach

Abdelhamid Kermali

He knew everything with a football, glory, the respect of Algerians. He is a highly respected character throughout the territory of one and a half million Shahids. He was born on April 24, 1931 in the locality of Akbou.

He began his football career with USM Sétif then with USM Algiers where he was a striker. His departure for France was forced since he received a two-year suspension from all sports, especially football, by the Football Federation of the time. Once in France, he signed a license with FC Mulhouse, then AS Cannes and Olympique Lyonnais where he found one of his teammates in this case Mustapha Zitouni.
Abdelhamid Kermali had a brilliant career as a professional player, but before that Abdelhamid Kermali is quite a talent. Indeed, in this small town of Akbou of fifty thousand inhabitants located between Ighram and Amalou in the wilaya of Béjaïa, football was not a major concern, and it was not surprising to see Abdelhamid Kermali, whom his friends call Hamid, and who lives in a poor family, spent his time on the streets playing ball, especially at such a young age of around ten. He left school for good and became a full-time footballer.
Abdelhamid Kermali is quite a talent. He was recruited by the USMS and very quickly became an indisputable holder of the reserve team. In 1948, when he was only eighteen years old, he made his debut with the first team in the Regional Championship against AS Bône (currently Annaba). He delivers much of his talent on the right wing alternating short dribbles, opposite foot hooks and crosses from the back. Abdelhamid Kermali makes the defenders opposite him dizzy with a mind well ahead of players of his age, he manages to become one of the most essential footballers in the USMS.
Abdelhamid Kermali is aware of his qualities, so it is no coincidence that in the summer of 1951, he joined another club, another “USM”, even more prestigious, that of Algiers. It will be just another step for him. Kermali has only one idea in mind, to join France, of course there are financial justifications but also simply the possibility of measuring himself against a more rigorous opposition.
He has been scoring goals for four seasons already, and his progress is only logical from his immense talent. It was in Mulhouse that he finally landed for his first season in France at the dawn of the 1952-1953 football season. A first exercise where he takes the measure of European football with a successful year, despite the harsh climate. However, when AS Cannes came knocking on his door the following off-season, he did not hesitate for a second. In addition to the climate, the historical Algerian presence in the club with Mokhtar Arribi, Mustapha Zitouni completes to convince the one who has just gleaned the nickname of “Karboua” on the Côte d’Azur. The USMA alum impresses with both style and versatility. For two exercises, he is considered one of the best offensive players in the region.
Abdelhamid Kermali started kicking a ball in the bumpy ground. It is therefore no coincidence that the recruiters of the biggest Muslim clubs in Algeria do their shopping there, and for that, we must give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, because it is thanks to Lyes Benaouda and the brothers Laklif, Abid and Kader, three USMS recruiters who have a crush on the kid.
Kermali had left a professional career to serve his country on this day of April 13, 1958, which coincides perfectly with the anniversary date of the FLN national team in Tunis, he was a football enthusiast. He had himself explained this ambition and this love for the ball with a simple sentence “I remember very well that I used the ball and the shoes as a pillow when I went to bed at night”. The little Abdelhamid Kermali nicknamed Kerboua began his football career at the USMS before joining the USMA, he is gaining in maturity. He made a name for himself alongside Souna, Sahraoui, Assassi, Safsaf, Sellami, Lakhlif deux, Zaiar Kari, Amara Djeridi and many other figures before heading to Algiers where he signed a second license at the ‘USM Algiers. This runaway cost Abdelhamid Kermali a two-year suspension and he became, overnight, unemployed. However, he manages to have 10,000 francs the day before and head for France for a first stop in Mulhouse during the 1955-56 season and thanks to his remarkable technique. It attracts recruiters. He is called upon by AS Cannes, a Division Two club where another Setifian, the late Mokhtar Arribi, and a certain, no less famous, compatriot named Mustapha Zitouni play. He seized the opportunity after a round of negotiations to meet in Cannes. At the end of the 1955-56 season, O. Lyonnais engages the former coach of Cannes Troupel. The latter will convince him to join him in Lyon, he has had a great season alongside André Laurent, the captain of the Blues of France, the Brazilian Constantino and other OL stars. From 1955 to 1958, he will play 65 Division One matches, he will score 14 goals and 7 of the Coupe de France and then came that famous Sunday, April 13, 1958 which made Abdelhamid Kermali answer the call of the homeland. He formed with Arribi (who became a player coach in Avignon), Bouchouk (FC Toulouse) and Mekhloufi Rachid (AS Saint Etienne) the group which had passed through Switzerland and Italy to join Tunis on Sunday April 20, 1958 where he started the epic of the glorious FLN team. With his compatriots of this freedom team, he played several matches around the world (Bulgaria, China, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Vietnam, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, USSR and Yugoslavia). Abdelhamid Kermali was with Mustapha Zitouni and others, one of the most talented players of the FLN team.
From 1962 to 1967, the one who would become the Sheikh returned to his childhood team, USM Sétif. In 1966, with the late Dekoumi president of the rival club, ES Sétif hired Kermali who won the Algerian Cup in 1967 with the Black and Whites as a player coach. With the ESS, Abdelhamid Kermali shows another facet of his mastery of football as a coach. He is the first coach to have introduced 4-3-3 in Algeria. Recognition of the Cheikh’s technicality is illustrated by the fact that he has drawn from Eastern formations (USM Annaba, CS Constantine, US Chaouïa, HB Chelghoum Laïd, CA Bordj Bou Arreridj, USM Sétif and ES Sétif), Center (MC Algiers) and ES Mostaganem in the west of the country. He was winner of the Algerian Championship in 1999 with MCA, winner of the CAN under 20 in 1979, winner of the African Cup of Nations in 1990, winner of the Afro-Asian Cup of Nations in 1991 , best coach of CAN-1990.
His reputation has crossed borders. He led the Ittihad of Libya, Ras el Kheima (emirates) and AS Marsa (Tunisia) where he did an excellent job.
Abdelhamid Kermali is a great Mujahid of the revolution. He gave up everything for the noble cause. He trained talented footballers. He will remain unforgettable, and remains present in the hearts of all Algerians.
Kouider Djouab

n TF1 and Canal +: France – Belgium at 7 p.m.
n France 2: Tour de France at 1 p.m.


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