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Orlando City centerback Amro Tarek eager to prove himself with Egypt’s national team

Orlando City SC defender Amro Tarek (3) and D.C. United midfielder Yamil Asad (22) leap to head the ball in the second half at Audi Field. D.C. United won 3-2. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando City centerback Amro Tarek is past the point where he’s just happy to receive a call-up to Egypt’s men’s national team.

He wants to appear in games for his country. He’s been capped once for the men’s national team, but that was in 2017. He’s been called up a few times this year, but he hasn’t appeared in any national team matches in 2018. 

He’ll get another chance soon. Egypt released its list of call-ups Monday ahead of its 2019 African Cup of Nations qualification matches against Swaziland on Oct. 12 and Oct. 16.

“I think in the beginning, when you join the national team, you’re just happy to join the group,” Tarek told Pro Soccer USA. “For me, it’s time to play some games. Before, I was only excited to be called up. Now I have bigger goals – to be a starter. I hope it’s coming soon.

“In the beginning, when you’re called up, you’re a little bit not yourself because it’s a new group. It’s a big responsibility. But in time, when you get called up again and again, you get used to the group. You prove yourself more. Every time they call me, every time I go there, I feel more comfortable in training. I feel more comfortable with the group.”

Tarek is one of three Orlando City players – again – who received call-ups to their respective national teams. Left back/winger Mohamed El-Munir (Libya) and star midfielder Yoshimar Yotún (Peru) will leave the Lions after their match against FC Dallas on Saturday. Their return dates vary, but all three will miss Orlando City’s matches against the New England Revolution (Oct. 13) and the Seattle Sounders (Oct. 17).

Tarek has been absent from Orlando City’s recent lineups. He didn’t play in the two games before his last call-up, then missed the Lions’ match against Sporting Kansas City while with Egypt’s national team.

“It’s very hard for me,” Tarek said. “I think we’re [at] a time in the season [where] everyone has to forget about themselves and only think about the group. We’ve been through a very tough season.

“I think the coach has been through a very tough time, himself, only winning one game in 13 games [across all competitions]. I don’t think it’s a good time just to think about myself or to ask why I’m not playing. It’s his decision. He’s trying a lot of new things. I hope some of the things he’s trying are going to help the team.”

He hasn’t played in Orlando City’s last two matches, either, though he was dealing with a hamstring injury.

“This happened when I came back from the national team camp,” Tarek said. “I think the training, because of jet lag and a long flight, I felt a little bit in my hamstring, but I kept training. At the end of the week, I had some tightness. I took just one week and I was training with the team again.”

Before this recent run of games, Tarek had 18 appearances (all starts) in 24 league matches for Orlando City.

“I think for me, as an individual, I had some goals and I reached most of my goals,” Tarek said. “For me, it’s a pretty good season, from a personal-goals [standpoint], but for sure, the most important thing is the good results for the club. We didn’t do good this season. Hopefully, next season things can be better.”

Footgolf tournament

Orlando City hosted its first annual Charity Footgolf Tournament Monday to raise funds for the Orlando City Foundation.

The tournament, which took place at the golf course at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, drew 128 golfers on 31 teams and raised more than $75,000 for the Foundation. Orlando City players and coaches participated in the tournament.

Footgolf is golf with a soccer ball. Instead of swinging a club, a player tries to get the ball in the hole by kicking it.

Orlando City Foundation President and Orlando City SC co-founder Kay Rawlins said proceeds from the event will go toward free soccer programs for children in underserved areas and toward community gardens.

“There’s a lot of golf tournaments here,” Rawlins said. “You know, you literally could probably go to one every week, if you wanted to. We thought, ‘Let’s be different.’ We’re a soccer team. We should be playing footgolf.”

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