Egypt lead the way in Brooklyn

Egypt’s Salma Hana Ibrahim in action. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Egypt lead the way in Brooklyn

LONDON: The opening day of action at the 2017 Carol Weymuller Squash Open in Brooklyn saw an Egyptian clean sweep as qualifier Mariam Metwally and the ever-improving Salma Hana Ibrahim upset the seedings and the odds to down former World No.3 Alison Waters of England and top ranked Indian Joshna Chinappa, respectively.
Having come through two tough qualification encounters just to reach the main draw, including a five-game battle with Danielle Letourneau, Metwally looked to be up against it as she took on 2014 tournament winner Waters, who sits 15 positions above her on the PSA World Rankings at No. 8.
But the 20-year-old Egyptian started strong to sneak an opening game tie-break and repeated the feat in the third to once again open up an advantage over Waters. The Englishwoman responded in style again in the fourth but it was Metwally, coming back from 6-3 down, who managed to take it to set up a quarter-final showdown with Ibrahim, who also defied the odds to record her first ever win over Chinappa.
The duo had met six times previously, with Chinappa enjoying a 100 percent winning record, and she looked to be on her way to win No. 7 as she began the first game with a 9-1 advantage.
Ibrahim, who impressed at the recent US Open to defeat Sarah-Jane Perry and record her first round one win on a World Series glass court, managed to get into a rhythm to narrow the deficit only to lose 11-9. With little to separate them the next two games went to the wire, with Ibrahim winning the fist 13-11 before Chinappa restored her lead courtesy of a 16-14 third game.
But Ibrahim managed to come back again to take the fourth and come through 12-10 in a mammoth fifth game.
“I’m so relieved,” said Ibrahim. “I wasn’t sure how my body would carry me. In the fifth game when I was 9-5 and 10-8 down, I remembered my match with Laura when I was 9-6 down and I kept believing that something might happen. She might hit the tin and I might get lucky in a few points.
“That’s what I did when Joshna was 10-8 up. My mind wasn’t thinking and I just played and kept believing I could still make and I did. I have to play Mariam next and she is my childhood compatriot from 9-years-old but I’m just glad I’m playing one more day.”
The other matches on day one saw top seed and World No. 1 Nour El-Sherbini and recent US Open Champion Nour El-Tayeb come through their first round encounters in straight-games to set up a compelling last eight battle.
“I was very nervous before this match with huge expectations after last week,” said El Tayeb, who beat Dutch player Milou van der Heijden. “I had to tell myself that it was just another match. I was very excited and nervous to play another match and I’m just trying to enjoy playing and put the results aside.”


Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

Updated 23 September 2018
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Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

  • The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title
  • Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2

CAIRO: Al-Ahly coach Patrice Carteron has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming African Champions League semifinal clash against Setif of Algeria, even though his side swept through with a 4-0 quarterfinal second-leg victory over Guinea’s Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.
The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title with the win against the Guineans after a goalless first leg. From the moment Walid Soliman opened the scoring after 32 minutes at the Al-Salam Stadium, the result was never in doubt as the Reds put in a dominant performance.
Second half goals from Islam Mohareb, Salah Mohsen and Ahmed Fathy confirmed the win.
“It was a good performance, especially as the pitch was poor,” Carteron said. “We are happy to go through but we controlled the game, especially in the second half when we were at our best. We adjusted our offensive strategy at the break and that made a difference.”
Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2.
“We know that the game will be very tough as Setif are a strong team but this is the semifinal of the Champions League, you know that any game is going to be tough,” added the Frenchman.
Setif defeated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 on aggregate and will host Al-Ahly in Algeria in the second leg on Oct. 23.
“Setif were the champions in 2014 and we know that we are going to have be at our best if we are going to the final,” said the 48 year-old, who also coached TP Mazembe of Congo to the 2015 title. He is aiming to deliver similar success for Al-Ahly, who last lifted the trophy in 2013.
“When I took the job three months ago, the target was clear: to win the Champions League. That is still the objective and we have taken a big step toward that today.
“Standards in the competition are getting better all the time and results in the quarterfinal show this,” Carteron said, adding that he and his players had taken note of how Mazembe had been knocked out at the last-eight stage.
“Now we are in the semifinal and we have to prepare as well as we can to face Setif. It will be a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
Setif reached the semifinal after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Morocco on Friday to take the tie 1-0 on aggregate following a win on Algerian soil a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show in Casablanca and made a number of fine saves to deny the defending champions.
It was a feather in the cap for coach Rachid Taoussi, a Moroccan who coached Wydad from 2002 to 2003.
“We managed this game very well,” Taoussi said. “We withstood the pressure. It is not easy to keep out such a team, especially with their fans behind them. In the end they had to play long balls and that made it easier for us to defend.”
While Morocco may have lost its sole representative left in the competition, Taoussi is flying the flag for his homeland. “I am proud to be Moroccan. I respect Wydad and the supporters a lot. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and play like we did.
“It is also a demonstration for those who constantly criticize the skills of Moroccan coaches. I’m so happy. That said, the most important thing for us now is to think about going even further in this competition, that is, reaching the final. We have one more step to go; we will give everything until the end.”
The other semifinal sees a third North African team trying to reach the showpiece event as Esperance de Tunis take on Clube Desportivo de Agosto of Angola.