Azaro, the fragrance of raw talent
Al Ahly’s latest recruit, with three goals during the semi final second leg of the Total CAF Champions League, Walid Azaro has everything he needs to take his club to the top. The striker’s first mission: winning the continental competition. Before perhaps boosting an european team.
To stand out in football and make a name for oneself, some deliver punchline after punchline or get a new, often weirder, haircut each week. Others would rather be known for their hat tricks. That is the case of Walid Azaro, who’s advance official anthem appears to be the quivering of the net. Episode 1, August 31st 2016: While he celebrates his first selection with the Morocco A’, the striker scores three times against Liberia, before putting in a double with that very same team against Jordan a few weeks later. Episode 2, October 22nd 2017: while his club had to bow its head with a 2-1 against Etoile sportive du Sahel in the semi final first leg of the Total CAF Champions League, Al Ahly’s fresh recruit strikes again but scoring the second, third and forth goals during the return game (6-2).
So here is the eight time European champion qualified for the last step of the competition thanks to its forward centre (and now international A) arrived at Al Ahly in June 2017 for 1.2 million euros (which is not a small sum for the continent). A feat that certainly soothed the man who showed up tip toeing. As the sixth Moroccan to play within the Egyptian championship, indeed had a hard time getting his bearings, and the critics weren’t kind enough to wait for an eventual adaptation period (notably because of missed opportunities against L’Esperance de Tunis, a game he apparently played in spite of a injury). It went as far as to raise doubts in the player’s mind. “It’s thanks to god that I overcame that obstacle, he said to an interview published by Mountakhab.net. I’m thankful to my teammates and to the fans that had my back during those hard times. It was only a matter of time. It is the will of God, and I wasn’t about to go against it. I remain optimistic for the future.” With the highly converted trophy as an ultimate goal. “Nothing’s done yet. We still have to play the final against a rough team, the Wydad Athletic Club.”
After a first leg and a 1-1 draw in Alexandria, the final second leg against the WAC, Morocco’s reigning champions, will have a feel of coming home for Azaro. Before leaving for an international career, the Agadir native (a town located in the Berber south of the country, at the gates of the desert) took his marks in his home country. More precisely, at the Difaâ Hassani of El Jadida (DHJ), which he joins in 2015. It doesn’t take Walid long to steal the spotlight there. If the first season is one of discovery and practice (25 championship games, six goals and four assists), the second is a true revelation: through 28 games, his profile, a true combination of speed, energy and power allows him to find the crack in the defence no less than 12 times and to shoot 8 decisive passes. That gave scouts from all over the world something to think about. In the summer of 2017, Montpellier, the FC Bâle et several Portuguese clubs negotiate with the DHJ to secure that diamond in the rough. But in the end, Al Ahly wins the jackpot. “It’s a club that always wants to win, and that’s what I wanted too, explained the 22 year-old on Al Ahly TV. I always want to win. Joining that club was simply in line with my personality.” His journey in Total CAF Champions League hardly proves him wrong so far, before other ventures, in Africa or beyond.