Bauza fired as Saudi national football team coach
Bauza fired as Saudi national football team coach
There had been speculation last week that Bauza had been relieved of his duties following the underwhelming tour of Western Europe, but the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News last Wednesday that the Argentine had not lost his job. It proved a brief stay of execution as, a week later, the SAFF yesterday announced on its Twitter feed that Bauza has indeed been given his marching orders after just two official matches in charge, against Portugal and Bulgaria.
“The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has terminated its contract with the manager and coach of the Saudi Arabia national team, Edgardo Bauza, on Wednesday,” read a statement. “This came after SAFF conducted a comprehensive technical evaluation of the last phase, during which Bauza was in charge of the national team and played five friendlies.”
Bauza oversaw wins against Jamaica and Latvia but presided over defeats to Ghana, Portugal and Bulgaria during his 69-day tenure.
Adel Izzat, president of the SAFF, explained that the decision to terminate Bauza’s contract was an upshot of “a thorough and comprehensive technical study of his performance and work, including the team’s two training camps and five friendlies.”
“The decision was made in the national team’s best interest, and is a reflection of our hopes for its upcoming participation,” he said.
The warning signs for Bauza were there when Turki Al-AlShaikh, the Chairman of the General Sport Authority, tweeted his dissatisfaction at the performances during the trip to Portugal, a training camp that yielded two defeats and just two goals in 270 minutes of football. “There is no coherence between players (no technical identity)... results are not good,” tweeted Al-AlShaikh. “Bauza is under the microscope.”
The feeling from the 12-day training get-together in Portugal was that the Spanish-speaking Bauza struggled to get his tactical messages across to his players and that the team looked particularly toothless in attack, especially against Portugal and Bulgaria, who are exactly the caliber of opposition Saudi Arabia are likely to be pitched against in next Friday’s draw for Russia 2018. Discipline was also something of a problem: Mansour Al-Harbi was sent off against Bulgaria while other players walked a disciplinary tightrope.
The SAAF clearly felt Bauza was, on reflection, not the right man to lead them at their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals and decided to act now to give the new man six months to prepare the team. They did something similar in 2006 when Gabriel Calderon, another Argentine, was fired in the lead-up to the World Cup in Germany.
This latest decision leaves the Federation searching for their fifth manager in as many years and the 20th in the past 18. There are, however, likely to be no shortage of applicants for the position, and the SAFF hinted yesterday that a replacement has already been lined up. Saudi Arabian legend Sami Al-Jaber and Al-Hilal coach Ramon Diaz have been strongly linked to succeed Bauza.
“SAFF announced that it is currently working on concluding a contract with a replacement coach, who will meet SAFF’s aspirations for the current phase, during which the national team is preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia,” added the statement.
LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia
9.30PM — ONE TO WATCH: Golovin is once agains having a good game in the Russia midfield. Elneny and Co need to quieten him down if they are to prevent the hosts creating good chance after good chance.
9.24PM: Egypt will be happy with the first 25 minutes, having weathered the early Russian onslaught they have come back into the match and, as with the Uruguay match, showing composure on the ball. Can they go up a level from here?
9.20PM: It's been a bit of a bitty start from both sides as this photo shows...
9.14PM: CLOSE! 'Trezeguet' comes so close with a curling effort from the edge of the box... Egypt finding their feet in this game ...
9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...
9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...
8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...
8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from our vantage point he is...
8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically?
For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace.
8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...
RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs: Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.
EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed, Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary, Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy, Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy.
8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why..
8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.