'Mohamed Salah's PFA Player of the Year award can inspire all Arab footballers'

Salah smiles after yet another success — the Liverpool star has scored 31 goals in the Premier League so far this season.
Updated 23 April 2018

'Mohamed Salah's PFA Player of the Year award can inspire all Arab footballers'

  • Mohamed Salah is the second Arab to win the sought-after award.
  • Former Saudi Arabia coach Nelo Vingada claims win will persuade more Arabs to play in Europe.

LONDON: Mohamed Salah’s incredible season is not just about winning individual awards or helping Liverpool to a possible UEFA Champions League win — the Egyptian star is inspiring millions of fans across the Arab world.
On Sunday the Egyptian ace won the PFA Premier League Player of the Year award, after his stunning exploits since joining Liverpool from AS Roma last summer. The 25-year-old leads the scoring charts with 31 goals this season so far, and is on target to beat Andy Cole’s record of 34 strikes in a single Premier League campaign.
And while that is great for both Salah and Liverpool, it is also great for the Middle East.
 “When there is a player like Salah performing, scoring and playing at the level he is playing at then it is amazing for Arabian football,”  Nelo Vingada, former coach of Cairo giants Zamalek and the Egyptian Under-23 team, told Arab News.
Vingada believes that the January departure of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona has given the forward the extra freedom he needed to excel in the Premier League.
“The people of Egypt are proud and very excited about Salah. 
Football is one of the things that unites the country and they are loving that he is playing so well,” added Vingada, who also led Saudi Arabia to the 1996 Asian Cup title.
Pat Janssen, CEO of Saudi Arabian club Al-Shabab, has been watching Salah’s success with a lot of enthusiasm and pride from Riyadh.
 “There is no question that Salah is inspirational for all Arabic players, and that includes those from the Asia side,” Janssen told Arab News.
“I can’t recall a higher profile player to come from the region. What he is doing with Liverpool can energize the region simply because Egypt is a massive football nation.”
It is hoped that the sight of Salah scoring goals by the bucketload and grabbing personal awards will inspire other Arab footballers to go to the big leagues in Europe and prove their 
talent on some of the biggest stages in the world.
“It has always been difficult for players to head overseas. In Egypt, it is different. They are open to fighting hard to make a better life for themselves,” Vingada said.
The rest of the world will get a chance to see how far Salah can take Egypt in the World Cup when the team’s chances of a place in the knockout stage may depend on the final game against Saudi Arabia. The two Arab nations have been drawn together in Group A with hosts Russia and South America powerhouses Uruguay.
“In Saudi Arabia, people will be proud of what he has doing as he is a Muslim and an Arab but ultimately he is Egyptian,” said Vingada. “It won’t be easy for Saudi Arabia to stop him. He is one of the best players in the world at the moment and if anyone can lead Egypt to the second round, he can.”
That would end what may just be a perfect season for Mohamed Salah.

Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019

Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.