Egypt to play Portugal, Bulgaria in pre-World Cup friendlies

In this file photo, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah celebrates after the game against Burkina Faso, Feb.1, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Egypt to play Portugal, Bulgaria in pre-World Cup friendlies

CAIRO: Egypt’s soccer federation said on Sunday that the country’s national team will meet Portugal and Bulgaria in friendly games as part of preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The federation said in a statement that Egypt will play Portugal on March 23 and Bulgaria four days later, with both matches to take place in Zurich, Switzerland.
Egypt, returning to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years, opens its World Cup campaign against Uruguay on June 15 before it takes on host Russia on the 19th of the same month. Its final Group A match is against Saudi Arabia on June 25.
Portugal, the reigning European champion, will give Egypt a flavor of the type of play that partially resembles group rival Uruguay, but Egypt’s most prominent football critic says he is unconvinced that the Portuguese will give Egypt the ideal preparation to take on the South Americans.
The Portugal-Egypt friendly, however, is potentially beneficial to the Portuguese, who are drawn in Group B with Morocco, whose style of play resembles that of the Egyptians. The other teams in Group B are Spain and Iran.
“Portugal plays Latin football, but it does not accurately mirror the style of South Americans,” said Hassan al Mestikawi of the independent Cairo daily, Al-Shorouk. “Bulgaria, on the other hand, is close to how the Russians play in terms of tactics.”
“But what the Egyptians need the most is to play football superpowers like Germany or Brazil. The results could be painful for the Egyptians but playing them would shatter the wall of fear Egyptians have when playing big teams,” he added.
Still, the Portugal friendly will likely pose a useful test for the Egyptian defense in the form of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s most prolific scorers. But while the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is by far the biggest threat on the Portugal team, Egypt will have to contend with two strikers who can tear any defense apart in Uruguay’s Luis Suarez of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani when the games start to count.


Mohamed Salah named Premier League’s best player of the year at PFA awards

Updated 23 April 2018
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Mohamed Salah named Premier League’s best player of the year at PFA awards

  • Egyptian superstar currently has 30 Premier League goals this season
  • Salah beat the likes of De Bruyne and Kane to the award

LONDON: Mohamed Salah was crowned the Premier League’s Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday, with his incredible 41-goal debut season at Liverpool beating out strong competition from Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
“It’s a big honor. I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it,” Salah said at the ceremony on Sunday evening.
Salah matched a Premier League record tally for a single season by scoring his 31st league goal of the campaign in a 2-2 draw at West Brom on Saturday.
“You’re comparing your name with some great names,” he said, on the prospect of breaking the record. “To break the Premier League record is something huge in England and all over in the world.
“There are still three games to go. I want to break this record.”
Salah has also netted seven times in eight Champions League games, including in both legs of Liverpool’s 5-1 quarter-final thrashing of City, to carry his side to a first semifinal for a decade.
De Bruyne showed why he had been many people’s early-season favorite for the prize with an incredible long-range strike for his 12th goal of the season to go with a league-high number of assists as champions City thrashed Swansea 5-0 on Sunday.
“From my point of view when you are analizing 10 months, there is no player better than him,” said City manager Pep Guardiola of the Belgian midfielder.
“Maybe there are numbers better but for me he was the best. But it is my opinion, the opinions of the players could be different. But in the end, in summer time he will be at home being champion.”
City did pick up a prize from the PFA gala in central London on Sunday, though, as Leroy Sane won the Young Player of the Year.
Sane, another City team-mate David Silva, De Bruyne, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Tottenham striker Harry Kane were the other five nominees for the main prize.