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.


‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

Updated 22 October 2018
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‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

AUSTIN: Sebastian Vettel said he felt mixed emotions after keeping his slender title challenge alive by finishing fourth in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, won by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The four-time champion, who started fifth on the grid after taking a three-place penalty, recovered from an opening lap spin to fight through the field in a tactical contest that left Lewis Hamilton frustrated in his bid to clinch his fifth drivers world title.
“My feelings? Mixed,” he said. “Happy. Really happy for Kimi. But not much for me. It should have been a better day.”
Vettel can only stop Hamilton taking his fifth drivers title next weekend in Mexico by winning the race and hoping Hamilton hits problems that keep him out of the top seven places.
He said he suffered a major blow when he clashed with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.
“I must have been in his blind spot. I’m not sure he saw me. The corner kept tightening and we hit. It was a big loss for me.”
Vettel’s disappointment took nothing away from a resurgent Ferrari’s satisfaction in recovering their mid-season pace, after abandoning several recent upgrades, and claiming a revitalising victory.
“I am very proud of them all,” said Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene.
“I was always proud of the guys and even more when we are winning races. It’s been hard for us recently and we had a race engineer pass away last weekend.... I have nothing more to add. It was great today. Thank you USA!“
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff admitted that Ferrari had been faster than his team, as he had feared.
“We lacked the pace and I said don’t close it too early. They are very fast. Kimi winning is great for him and for Ferrari, so let’s go to the next race in Mexico now.
“It was difficult to overtake, but for us it was a strategy that got worse as it progressed. We need to re-think and see what we can do better. We put on a good show altogether and that’s what’s more important.”