‘We are not reliant on Salah,’ claims Egypt coach Cuper

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Egypt and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been in sparkling goalscoring form for both club and country. (AFP)
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Updated 07 November 2017
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‘We are not reliant on Salah,’ claims Egypt coach Cuper

CAIRO: Egypt coach Hector Cuper has been forced to defend his tactics and reliance on star man Mohamed Salah, claiming a different strategy may not have led the Pharaohs to what will be their first World Cup in 28 years.
Egypt have gathered in Cairo for the first time since Oct. 8, when they qualified for the World Cup with a game to spare after beating Republic of Congo 2-1 to top Africa Group E. They face Ghana in their last qualifier on Sunday.
Yet, despite the long-awaited qualification, Cuper has been widely criticized in Egypt for his cautious tactics and dependence on Salah. Some in the local media have mockingly dubbed the Argentine’s strategy to be “Pass it to Salah,” and others have gone so far as to say he should be fired.
Egyptian football officials side with Cuper, the coach since 2015, and have pledged to keep him through to the World Cup in Russia next year.
Cuper answered the criticism at a packed news conference at Cairo’s 100,000-seat stadium, before the national squad trained, and said: “The team may have the potential to perform better, and we could have changed our tactics, but we may also not have been going to Russia as we are now.
“In football, not everyone can agree on a single set of tactics. Sometimes, even realizing all the set objectives is not enough for the sport’s officials. It’s natural.
“Sometimes, I myself make a wrong assessment and it’s possible that Egypt could have qualified for the World Cup with a different coach. My abilities may have their limitations, and with another coach you could have played better, braver, and attacked more.”
In response to criticism that he has relied heavily on overseas-based players, Cuper said he’s tried 50 players during his two-and-a-half-year tenure, and he and his staff have tirelessly watched domestic games with a view to recruiting new talent.
But he cautioned that bringing in new faces won’t be easy at this stage.
“We watch and we analyze to see who is better and more suitable,” he said. “The players already in the squad know their places are not guaranteed. Even my job is not guaranteed.”
The priority, he said, for the Ghana match will be to give game-time to peripheral players already in the squad. Cuper defended leaving Salah out of the clash, saying the striker was “very exhausted, both physically and emotionally” when he was last on international duty. He, instead, called up striker Mahmoud Abdel-Razeq, better known by his nickname Sheekabala, for the first time since 2014. Sheekabala has been in impressive form for Saudi club Al Raed.
“He has developed in a big way recently and he could get to play against Ghana,” Cuper said.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 26 min 20 sec ago
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.