European soccer weekend: What to watch in the main leagues

Updated 12 October 2017
0

European soccer weekend: What to watch in the main leagues

What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
ENGLAND
Manchester United’s title credentials get a stern test at bitter rival Liverpool when English soccer’s most storied clubs meet on Saturday.
Liverpool is under pressure to show it can compete, needing to make a big statement after carelessly dropping points in recent weeks.
United’s trips to Anfield are always one of the highlights of the Premier League, and always hotly contested.
Liverpool was reinvigorated under coach Juergen Klopp and in the ascendancy last season, but Jose Mourinho has turned fortunes around and United is level with Manchester City at the top. However, United’s six wins — in seven games — have not come against strong sides.
Liverpool is under pressure and is already seven points behind the co-leaders. It is a must-win game for Klopp on Saturday lunchtime, because his attack-minded yet inconsistent side can ill afford to fall further behind.
City hosts Stoke later on Saturday and will be well poised to profit if United drops points.
SPAIN
After lifting Argentina into the World Cup, Lionel Messi goes back to the business of helping Barcelona maintain its dominant start in the Spanish league.
Barcelona will be looking for an eighth straight win when it makes its first visit to Atletico Madrid’s new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday.
But Barcelona will have to deal with the fatigue of top players who made grueling trips to World Cup qualifiers, including Luis Suarez and Messi, whose hat trick in Ecuador secured Argentina’s place in Russia next year.
Barcelona has a five-point lead over Sevilla and is six points in front of unbeaten Atletico and Valencia.
Sevilla plays at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, while Valencia is at Real Betis on Sunday.
Defending champion Real Madrid, seven points off the lead, plays at Getafe on Saturday.
ITALY
It is a big weekend in Serie A with all of the league’s biggest clubs going head to head.
Six-time defending champion Juventus opens the action against fourth-placed Lazio followed by leader Napoli’s visit to Roma on Saturday.
High-scoring Napoli has notched at least three goals in all seven of its Serie A matches, but could face a stiffer test against in-form Roma goalkeeper Alisson.
Sunday’s action is highlighted by the Milan derby.
AC Milan is in desperate need of a win after dropping to seventh place following consecutive 2-0 losses to Sampdoria and Roma.
While the Rossoneri are still learning to play together after a summer that brought in an entire squad of new players, third-placed Inter has appeared much more solid under new manager Luciano Spalletti and sits seven points ahead of Milan.
FRANCE
Defending champion Monaco is under early pressure in the title race and faces a tough match at Lyon on Friday.
Monaco, which has slipped three points behind leader Paris Saint-Germain, will almost certainly be without star striker Radamel Falcao.
Falcao has made a blistering start with 12 goals, but will likely be rested by coach Leonardo Jardim after playing for Colombia on Tuesday night in World Cup qualifying.
PSG coach Unai Emery must decide whether to rest his South American stars. Neymar played for Brazil and Edinson Cavani scored for Uruguay.
Emery could start with Kylian Mbappe up front when PSG plays away to struggling Dijon on Saturday.
Mbappe will be much fresher, having gone on as only a late substitute in France’s home win against Belarus on Tuesday.
Meawhile, third-placed Marseille looks for a fourth straight win when it travels to Strasbourg.
GERMANY
Jupp Heynckes’ fourth stint in charge of Bayern Munich begins with a visit from struggling Freiburg on Saturday.
The 72-year-old Heynckes, who was coaxed out of retirement after Carlo Ancelotti was fired, has the challenge of getting the side to play fluidly as a team after lackluster performances. Bayern is already five points behind Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund after seven rounds.
There should not be a problem for Bayern. Freiburg has never won in 17 games in Munich, while the last 13 all ended in defeat.
Dortmund hosts Leipzig with most of the attention focused off the pitch following the disturbances that overshadowed the sides’ previous meeting in Dortmund.
In February, Leipzig fans were attacked with stones and bottles, police officers were injured, and visiting players and officials were confronted with derogatory chants and banners in the stadium. Police opened 214 cases, leading to criminal proceedings in 168.
Dortmund, unbeaten in 41 league games at home, is aiming to maintain its best-ever start to the Bundesliga.


Paving the way for Mo Salah

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago
0

Paving the way for Mo Salah

  • Long before the Liverpool star arrived in the UK, a handful of Egyptian players made the same journey
  • Mohammed Salah has the fame and, with a reported salary of £200,000 (SR1 million) per week, he certainly has the fortune.

LONDON: The World Cup is underway, and the hopes of football-mad Arab nations are rising. Many eyes are on Mohamed Salah, star of the Egyptian team and of the English Premier League, to elevate the reputation of Arab footballers.

At Liverpool, the 25-year-old is adored. But he is not the first Egyptian that British football fans have taken to their hearts.

Long, long before Mo, there was Mustafa Mansour and Mohamed Latif in the 1930s and before them, there was Hussein Hegazi and Tewfik Abdullah. All were Egyptians foot- ballers who brought their dazzling skills to British clubs.

One was a striker who had poems written about him; one graced the cover of the top football magazine of the time; one was a goalkeeper regarded as a trailblazer for African football who later served as a government minister, and one played for Glasgow Rangers and went on to become his country’s top football commentator.

 

Hussein Hegazi

Hegazi was the first. Born into a wealthy aristocratic Cairo family in 1891, he honed his footballing skills by playing against British soldiers and by the time he arrived in England in 1911 to study engineering at University College, London, he was already known in Egypt as a prolific goal scorer, notching up 57 in one season. He was also a top-class runner, winning the national championships in the quarter mile and half-mile (equivalent to today’s 400 meters and 800 meters) four years in a row.

How he came to the attention of Dulwich Hamlet FC, a well-established non-league club in South London is unclear but he made his debut with them on Sept. 23, 1911, to great acclaim. With his wiry build (he weighed only 60 kg), he was de- scribed as having “a lightning drive.”

A match report in the local newspa- per, the “South London Press,” said: “The Egyptian gave a splendid exhibition... simply conjured with the ball.” Another report from Oct. 13 called him “the thinking man’s footballer.”

The fans loved him as much as the pundits and promptly nicknamed him Nebuchadnezzar.

It was not long before a much bigger club noticed him. Fulham, then in the Second Division (today’s Championship), were eager to sign him up, especially after Hegazi scored in his try-out for them against Stockport County on Nov. 11.

Alarmed at the prospect of losing him, Dulwich Hamlet manager Pa Wilson turned up at Hegazi’s lodgings. After listening to Wil- son’s pleadings, Hegazi felt honor- bound to stay at Dulwich.

“I was in a difficulty for I wanted to play very much in league football and at the same time I did not want to leave Dulwich Hamlet, who have been very good to me,” he said. Wilson called Hegazi “as honorable a man as ever stepped on to a football field” and a writ- er for the “Athletic News” was moved to write a five-verse poem in tribute.

Hegazi did two European tours with Dulwich Hamlet and also played for the London county team. In 1913, he embarked on studies at Cambridge University but left before the end of his first year, though not before winning a Blue with the university football team. He played for the national Egyptian team in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics and finally hung up his boots in 1932, aged 40. He died in 1958. A street in the Garden City area of Cairo is named after him.

 

Tewfik Abdullah

Tewfik Abdullah (sometimes spelled Tawfik Abdallah), the second Egyp- tian to play in Britain, was encour- aged by his friendship with Tommy Barbour, a Scottish soldier in the Brit- ish army serving in Egypt who also played fullback for Derby County.

Born in Cairo in June 1896, Abdul- lah, a midfielder, began his career with Cairo club. Mokhtalat, and played for the national team at the 1920 Olympics. He also played against the British army, where he met Barbour.

Abdullah made his English league debut in October 1920 against Manchester City and was instantly nicknamed “Toothpick.”

One possibly apocryphal tale about his first game relates that he came out on to the pitch asking, “Where’s me camel?” It transpired he was, in fact, asking, “Where’s Mick Hamill?” the City player he had been assigned to mark.

Abdullah scored in the match, which Derby won 3-0. The following month, he was on the cover of the magazine “Topical Times,” with the pyramids and the Sphinx in the background, as part of a feature on the fashion for recruiting players “from far afield.”

In 15 appearances for Derby County, Abdullah never scored again and in 1922 he joined Scottish Second Division side, Cowdenbeath, where he was nick- named “Abe” and was awarded the ultimate acco- lade when a local leading miner named one of his racing greyhounds Abe in his honor. Beset by injury, Abdullah only

stayed one season in Scotland. In 1923, he joined Welsh non-league Bridgend Town and a year later he was back in the league with Hartlepool, in the northeast of England. He made 11 ap- pearances, scored once and at the end of the 1924 season crossed the Atlan- tic to join the exotically named Provi- dence Clamdiggers.

He played for four more teams in the US and went on to coach, but America’s racial segregation laws — which meant he was often not allowed to stay in the same hotels as his white colleagues — dismayed him. He returned to Egypt in the late 1920s for a year but crossed the Atlantic again to join Canadian side Montreal Carsteel, spending the rest of his playing career there.

After retiring he managed Farouk Club (an old name for Zamalek) and in 1940 became manager of the Egyp- tian national team, taking them to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

More than a decade passed before an Egyptian again donned football boots for a British side — and then came a pair of them.

Goalkeeper Mustafa Kamel Man- sour and winger Mohammad La- tif were in Egypt’s 1934 World Cup squad, which was coached by Scots- man James McCrea.

 

Mustafa Kamel Mansour

Mansour, born in Alexandria in Au- gust 1914, began his club career with Al-Ahly. Latif, five years older, played for El-Mokhtalat, (another of Zama- lek’s past names). Encouraged by their mentor, McCrae, they arrived in Scotland in 1935 and enrolled at Jordanhill College to train as physi- cal education teachers.

The Glasgow Rangers wanted them both but Mansour instead chose to join Queen’s Park, Scotland’s oldest club and also the only amateur team in the Scottish professional league. He even turned down the huge sum of £5,000 — equivalent to around £340,000 ($455,000 or SR1.7million) today — to turn professional.

“It was a record at the time but I did not want to play for money,” said Mansour in a BBC interview in 2002. How times have changed.

He spent two seasons at Queen’s Park, where he was affectionately known as Tuffy, and played in al- most 50 league matches and eight Cup ties. He was also a popular adult member of the 72nd Glasgow Scout Troop.

Mansour returned to Egypt when war broke out in 1939, but his foot- balling career was far from over. Af- ter his playing days ended, he quali- fied as an international referee and then managed his old club, Al-Ahly. He was a top-ranking figure in Egyp- tian football and from 1958-61 he was secretary-general of the Confed- eration of African Football. He also served as a minister in the Egyptian government.

He died in 2002, a few weeks af- ter the interview with the BBC and a month before his 88th birthday.

 

Mohammad Latif

Five years older than his compa- triot, Mohammad Latif was from Beni Suef, south of Cairo, and by his early 20s, he was one of the best footballers in the country. His three goals against a British mandate football team during qualification rounds secured both Egypt’s place in the 1934 World Cup and Latif’s place in the squad.

The first non-white to play for Glasgow Rangers made his first team debut on Sept. 14, 1935, the same day that Hitler addressed 54,000 people at a mass rally in Nuremberg, an- nouncing laws against non-whites.

Unfortunately, Latif’s Rangers ca- reer did not progress well. His play- ing was described as “impetuous” and after that first outing, he was left out of the first team for seven months. His next game was also his last and he returned to Egypt to pre- pare for the 1936 Olympics in Ber- lin. He and Mansour both made the squad.

Latif rejoined El-Mokhtalat and continued playing for them until 1945. He moved into coaching and also attained international standard as a referee, before embarking on yet another successful career as a football commentator, achieving fame not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world as “the sheikh of commentators.”

Mohammed Salah may have the fame and, with a reported salary of £200,000 (SR1 million) per week, he certainly has the fortune.

The names of Hegazi, Abdullah, Mansour and Latif may not echo so resoundingly through the annals of footballing history. But they were pathfinders and admirable ambassa-dors for Arab sportsmen. And that is a hard act to follow.