Mohamed Salah set to become first global Arab superstar

Updated 19 December 2017
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Mohamed Salah set to become first global Arab superstar

LONDON: When Saeed Al-Owairan slalomed through the Belgian defense at the 1994 World Cup to score one of the greatest goals in the tournament’s history, he did more than send Saudi Arabia to the knockout stage in the country’s first appearance.
He made headlines around the world. Here was a player representing an Arabian country seemingly destined for global superstardom. It never happened. Al-Owairan had a decent career but his trip to the United States was by far the highlight.
Rabah Madjer must be the biggest Arabian name in football history. The striker helped Algeria defeat West Germany at the 1982 World Cup and then Porto defeat Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final. This century however, no Arabian player has really made the step from regional hero to global superstar.
Mohamed Salah, however, looks set to be the first. The Egyptian has been the sensation of the Premier League this season since signing for Liverpool in the summer.
“I do not go to bed at night, thinking: ‘Wow, how good is Salah?’” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said on Sunday. The German is one of the few, surely.
Sarah put in another fabulous performance — to join the many he has already served up — as the Reds tore Bournemouth apart on Sunday, winning 4-0. It took him to 20 goals in all competitions for his new club, an amazing statistic considering that that it is not yet Christmas and there were questions as to whether he would start regularly for Liverpool when he was signed from Roma in the summer.
The 25 year-old is the talk of the town, the toast of English football and the top scorer in the Premier League with 14 goals. Six more have also come in the Champions League. It is not just the quantity that has been impressive but the quality is there too.
Whatever happens, his first season in England has been a huge success with the only downside being that Liverpool are not in the title race, but then given the form of Manchester City, nobody else is either.
It puts attention on whether the team can go all the way in the Champions League, a tough but not unrealistic goal given Liverpool’s ability to be devastating when the mood takes them.
That would merely confirm Salah’s reputation as the leading Arabian star of the moment and the World Cup can take him even higher. A great goal can give you a place in history as happened to Al-Owairan but a great tournament coupled with a fantastic season at one of the biggest clubs in the world is something else.
Egypt are unlikely to win the trophy but if Salah can lead the Pharaohs to the knockout stage then that will be another fantastic achievement. There is going to be plenty of pressure on his shoulders but he can handle it — his 95th minute penalty against the Congo in October which took his country to the World Cup for the first time since 1990 demonstrated nerves of steel to go with his quicksilver feet.
The draw has been kind to Egypt. Finishing second in a group containing Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay is far from impossible especially when you have one of the most in-form strikers in the world.
The opening game against the South Americans will be crucial. Uruguay are a World Cup powerhouse but recent performances have been mixed. It will be fascinating to see how the current Liverpool hero lines up against Luis Suarez, who arrived from the continent in 2011 to become a sensation at Anfield.
A good result there really sets up the North Africans for a fine tournament with hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia both beatable. Egyptian fans are entitled to be excited about next summer just as much as they will be praying that their talisman stays fit.
Since the days of Madjer, it is hard to argue that there has been an Arabian player who made consistent impact on the global stage. The next few months and Salah could change all that and become the first from the region this century to join the ranks of world stars.


Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

Updated 17 July 2018
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Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

  • This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings
  • Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker

LEEDS: Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker as an innings of exactly 100 not out on his Headingley home ground saw the hosts to an eight-wicket victory over India on Tuesday and a 2-1 series win.
This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings after his 113 not out helped England level the three-match contest with an 86-run win at Lord’s on Saturday.
This latest hundred was also Test skipper Root’s 13th in ODIs, taking him past the England record of 12 he had previously shared with Marcus Trescothick.
Tuesday saw Root and one-day captain Eoin Morgan (88 not out) share an unbroken third-wicket stand of 186 as England, first in the ODI rankings to their opponents’ second, ended India’s run of nine straight bilateral series wins in style.
England, who will be bidding to win the World Cup for the first time when they stage next year’s edition, had said they would treat Tuesday’s match as a dress rehearsal for a winner-takes-all game at the showpiece tournament.
And that made the comprehensive manner of their victory all the more satisfying for Morgan’s men.
It was England’s bowlers who set up this win, with Adil Rashid and David Willey, two of the five Yorkshire cricketers in their XI, taking three wickets apiece.
But, after left-arm quick Willey had kept things tight early on, it was leg-spinner Rashid who did significant damage by taking two wickets in an over.
He bowled India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli (71), as well as dismissing Suresh Raina, on his way to three for 49 in a maximum 10 overs.
Willey, who took three for 40 in nine overs, received excellent new-ball support from Durham quick Mark Wood (one for 30).
Root, who was dropped from the final match of England’s preceding 2-1 Twenty20 series loss, told Sky Sports: “It feels fantastic.
“To come into a big series like this and perform how we have as a side is great.”
Morgan added: “I think we were outstanding. I think the tone was set by the bowlers early on, David Willey and Mark Wood were on the money. From that point there was no let up.”
Meanwhile Kohli accepted his side had been outplayed.
“I thought we were never on the mark as far as runs on the board were concerned, we were 25-30 short, and England were really clinical with the bat and in the field as well,” he said.
After Morgan won the toss, Rohit Sharma, who scored a superb century during India’s eight-wicket win in the series-opener at Trent Bridge, struggled to make two off 18 balls, his innings ending when he flicked Willey to Wood at deep square leg.
Opening partner Shikhar Dhawan made a fluent 44 before was run out by Stokes’s direct hit.
Dinesh Karthik, preferred to KL Rahul for this match, then made 21 before he was bowled between bat and pad by Rashid.
Kohli pressed on, however, completing a 55-ball fifty before Rashid struck twice in six balls as India slumped to 158 for five.
He bowled Kohli with a superb leg-break and had Raina caught low at leg-slip by Root.
James Vince, called up in place of the injured Jason Roy cut the first ball of England’s reply, from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for four.
Vince’s frustrating England career has seen him repeatedly get out on Tuesday he fell for a run-a-ball 27, although it needed a brilliant one-handed take by wicket-keeper Dhoni, from Hardik Pandya’s throw, to run him out.
But by then England were 74 for two inside 10 overs, well above the required run-rate.
Root, stumped off a Yuzvendra Chahal no-ball on 69, went to his century when he pulled Pandya through midwicket for his 10th four in 120 balls as England won with 33 deliveries to spare.
An elated Root celebrated by dropping his bat to the ground — the ‘mic drop’ gesture more associated with rock stars and stand-up comedians than cricketers.