No brotherly love for Egyptian squash star Mohamed Elshorbagy

Updated 18 December 2017
0

No brotherly love for Egyptian squash star Mohamed Elshorbagy

LONDON: Mohamed Elshorbagy admitted he had to overcome mixed emotions to win the squash world title by beating his brother Marwan 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 late on Sunday in the first ever final between brothers.
Mohamed had twice lost world finals by the narrowest of margins to fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour, but he was not prepared for an even harder opponent — the younger sibling with whom he has been competing since they were both old enough to walk.
"I was in shock when Marwan won his match (on Saturday),” Mohamed admitted.
"I was lying in bed for hours thinking I have to beat my brother to win the world title. It was not a nice feeling at all."
It was a contest of sensational hitting, breath-taking movement, and obvious emotion between two men who could often guess what the other might do.
Mohamed, twice a British Open winner, led by a game and 9-7 but was pegged back, while Marwan went 6-4 up in the decider but could get no closer to the finish line.
It ended in a flurry of lets and penalty points as both men tired, with Marwan starting to miss with his short game in the last few points.
It may have been Marwan's later schedule the previous night and subsequent shorter recovery time which eventually made a difference.
The end came with a ferocious cross court forehand winner from Mohamed, after which Marwan responded by applauding Mohamed for his achievement.
Mohamed tried to soften the blow by lifting Marwan's arm as the crowd clapped, and there followed a very long hug between the brothers.
“I waited a long time for this moment and it was such a hard feeling," said Mohamed.
"It is something we must share for the rest of our lives, although maybe both of us will not enjoy it.”
“At the end we congratulated each other. It was my time today, with this title you have to be patient and it will come for him. I’ve won everything in the sport now, but I still have much more to achieve and more titles to win.”
Earlier, Raneem El-Welily ended a three-year wait for atonement having lost the 2014 final when she won the women's world title by upsetting her Egyptian compatriot Nour El-Sherbini 3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5.
“She was under more pressure than me today,” said El-Welily.
“I felt so different today compared to the last World Championship final. That one was a nightmare, today I was so much more relaxed.
“So much has changed since 2014. The game has changed, I have changed, the sport is different from then. We're all adapting and improving. I hope I can keep the same attitude for the remainder of the season. From this moment to the next event I don't know what will happen, but I know I don't want to stop with just this one success.”


Egypt, South Africa bid to be replacement African Cup host

Updated 16 December 2018
0

Egypt, South Africa bid to be replacement African Cup host

  • The executive committee will now decide who is awarded the tournament at a meeting in Dakar, Senegal on Jan. 9
  • Cameroon was stripped of hosting rights last month because of delays with its preparations and a violent separatist movement

Egypt and South Africa are the countries bidding to replace Cameroon as host of next year’s African Cup of Nations and the winner will have just five months to put preparations in place for the continent’s top soccer tournament.
CAF announced the bids late Saturday — the deadline to submit was end of Friday — and said that its executive committee will decide the new host at a meeting in Dakar, Senegal on Jan. 9.
That date, which was pushed back from Dec. 31, gives the host precious little time to get ready for a tournament which is scheduled to kick off June 15 and is the first to be increased from 16 to 24 teams.
Cameroon was stripped of hosting rights last month because of delays with its preparations and a violent separatist movement close to two tournament host cities in the western part of the country.
Although Egypt and South Africa have the best soccer infrastructure in Africa, organizing at such short-notice still promises to be a challenge.
The African soccer body also needs to decide if South Africa, should its bid win, would automatically qualify as the new host. The South African team still hasn’t qualified and plays its last qualifier in March. Egypt has qualified.
CAF also hasn’t said if Cameroon, the defending African champion, will retain its place at the tournament as the original host.
African Cup hosting has been a major headache for CAF, with four successive tournaments now switched from their initial host countries. South Africa hosted in 2013 when it replaced war-torn Libya, Equatorial Guinea stood in for Morocco in 2015, and Gabon replaced Libya again last year.
The Cup of Nations is played every two years, not every four like other major tournaments.
The bids by Egypt and South Africa came after Morocco, long considered the front-runner to replace Cameroon, surprisingly said last week it wouldn’t put itself forward. Morocco had been widely touted as a replacement after it was a candidate to host the 2026 World Cup. It lost out for the World Cup to a joint United States-Mexico-Canada bid.
Egypt said as recently as last month that it would not enter the race and compete with the expected bid from fellow North African nation Morocco. Morocco’s decision not to bid appears to have led to Egypt’s change of heart.
Egypt is a powerhouse of African soccer, with its national team a record seven-time Cup of Nations winner. An African Cup in Egypt would also provide an intriguing story-line for Mohamed Salah, the Egypt forward who is currently the continent’s best player and a hero in his home country.
But Egypt’s recent political turmoil might work against the country’s bid. Egypt has seen violence and upheaval ever since the 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak. The political crisis also regularly spilled over onto the soccer field and the lowest point came when more than 70 people were killed in a riot at a game in the northern city of Port Said in 2012. It was one of world soccer’s worst stadium riots.
Port Said was floated as one of the proposed 2019 tournament venues by Egyptian officials, alongside another Mediterranean city, Alexandria, Suez and the capital Cairo.
Egypt’s bid does have logistical advantages for CAF, though, with the African soccer body based in Cairo.
South Africa hosted the continent’s first World Cup in 2010 and has world-class stadiums left over from that tournament.
The South African Football Association said it had been approached by CAF in recent weeks to bid for 2019, suggesting Africa’s most developed economy is the preferred choice for organizers.
But the South African Football Association was still seeking permission from government to bid on the day of the deadline on Friday and it’s unclear how much money the country is willing to commit having spent big on soccer tournaments in recent years.
CAF also has problems with future editions of its showpiece event, with African soccer president Ahmad saying in a media interview it had offered the 2021 edition to Cameroon. That provoked an angry response and a legal challenge from Ivory Coast, which was initially awarded the tournament and says it still considers itself the host.
CAF, under former president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, awarded hosting rights for three tournaments at the same meeting in 2014 — Cameroon in 2019, Ivory Coast in 2021 and Guinea in 2023. Questions were immediately raised over all those countries’ ability to hold the tournament.
Outside of a few exceptions, most African countries are not prepared to host a major soccer tournament and the African Cup often gets by on last-minute preparations and the most basic infrastructure.