Time moves pretty fast in football, as Bauza is all too aware of

MARCHING ORDERS: After just five matches in charge Edgardo Bauza has been axed as Saudi Arabia coach. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Time moves pretty fast in football, as Bauza is all too aware of

LONDON: Just three weeks ago Edgardo Bauza was talking of the importance of games against Latvia, Portugal and Bulgaria. The first game was a victory with the subsequent two ending in defeat. Results, though, were not the priority.
“We have a lot of time, but also a lot of work,” Bauza told Arab News. “Let’s keep watching the local championship, see all the players, and select the best for our next camp in March.”
Even after the defeats such talk seemed reasonable: Without Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal remain one of the best teams in the world — you tend not to win European Championships with just one player — and against Bulgaria Bauza was without all the Al-Hilal players in his squad as they had been allowed to go train with their club side ahead of its AFC Champions League final first-leg clash against Urawa Reds last Saturday.
Bauza had seen what was needed for an assault on the World Cup and had just started to roll up his sleeves and get the squad used to his style. That was when reports started to surface in Argentina last week that he was on his way out.
In the past, you could depend on Saudi Arabia changing coaches as much as Italy qualifying for the World Cup. But with Bert van Marwijk in place for two years and getting the required results, things seemed to be changing.
The Dutchman led the Green Falcons to the World Cup and everything seemed well set up for a crack at making it out of the group stages for the first time since 1994. Then came Van Marwijk’s dispute with the Saudi Football Federation, him leaving his job, with Bauza coming in as his replacement.
Just 69 days later and the Argentine, too, is now no longer at the helm. Perhaps the players weren’t liking his style of trying to be more solid at the back, or perhaps they didn’t like his training methods. Whatever transpires, and even if this move does turn out to be a masterstroke, what is clear is that after two years of stability under Van Marwijk, the current situation is clearly less than ideal a week out from the World Cup draw and seven months out from the big kick-off.


Nadiya Abdul Hamid punching the way for Arab women in the boxing ring

Updated 16 min 50 sec ago
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Nadiya Abdul Hamid punching the way for Arab women in the boxing ring

  • Hamid has moved from inside the ring to teaching boys outside it.
  • Egyptian hero has had to deal a right hook to preconceptions about women and boxing.

BUENOS AIRES: When Nadiya Abdul Hamid, a seven-time Egyptian national champion, hung up her boxing gloves almost a decade ago, she turned her talents instead to coaching.
Yet even while she last week became the first Arab female to train athletes at an Olympics, at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Hamid feels she is still fighting daily for the respect she deserves.
Hamid is a 29-year-old who gives little away, likely the result of a career in which she has been forced to overcome cultural subjugation and sexual discrimination since the day she first entered the ring 15 years ago. A late starter at 14, she quickly learnt the ropes and finished fifth at the 2008 International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships, competing as a light-heavyweight.
“At the time, it was something unusual in Egypt,” Hamid told Arab News. “I was the first woman in my country to make a professional career out of boxing. I became Egypt’s first female boxing coach and it was so hard for men to accept this idea of a woman coaching boxing, let alone boys. Some people still say ‘We are in a Muslim country, how can a woman coach the men?’ but with time they are accepting the idea.” 
Since receiving an invitation in 2009 to work alongside a new Cuban coach hired by the Egyptian Boxing Federation, Hamid has slowly negotiated her way through the system, eventually in 2016 earning the role of head coach of her country’s youth team. Two of her fighters won bronze medals at the World Youth Championships in Budapest in August, while at the African qualifying tournament for this month’s Youth Games, her fighters won all three slots available to them.
“Training three boxers simultaneously is nothing new,” she said. “You just have to train everyone separately and give everyone their own time, that’s it. It gets harder when you have a big competition such as the Olympics because you must be focused on everyone and sometimes schedule individual training. But we are used to this.”

Youssef Ali Mousa reacts after the points decision against Britain's Karol Itauma went against him at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.


In Argentina and working alongside coach Said Hassan, Hamid watched from the corner as all three of her fighters reached the semifinals. When Youssef Ali Moussa lost harshly to eventual gold medallist Karol Itauma of Britain, it was she who carried the tearful young man back to the training area. Marwan Madboly and Ahmed El-Sawy Elbaz also lost in their final-four bouts, but Elbaz recovered to beat Canada’s Tethluach Cguol and secure a bronze medal.
“Some people did not accept the idea (of a Muslim woman working with young men) until they saw me coaching,” Hamid said. “Every day, I am still in a fight, but I am winning. Now it is finally being accepted and becoming more popular because many people talk about this woman who became the Egyptian national team coach. For me, you have to show your respect everywhere you go, not only with the people but also in the way you work. You need to show you deserve to be where you are.”
Hamid said one of the most positive developments of the past eight years has been women in the Middle East beginning to make their voices heard, pointing to Sahar Nasar, her government’s investment minister.
“Now (women) have a voice. They said ‘We are here; we are not focusing our minds on war or revolution, but instead on evolving ourselves.’ Arab women only want to show that if you give us a chance, we will surprise you. Now the women in my country and some other Arab countries are getting those chances and taking them.”
Hamid hopes her chance will lead to the fulfilment of a dream she has retained since the first time she donned training mitts. For while people often speak of athletes setting objectives around Olympic Games, coaches are no different.
“Absolutely,” she said. ”It’s been a dream for me for a long time, since I started coaching nine years ago. Always I wanted to go to the Olympic Games, so I am looking to Tokyo 2020. That’s my target.”