'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
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'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.


Sri Lanka Cricket suspends two caught in pitch-fixing sting

Updated 27 May 2018
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Sri Lanka Cricket suspends two caught in pitch-fixing sting

  • A player and a groundsman are suspended
  • Documentary claimed pitch was going to be tampered with ahead of England Test

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Cricket on Sunday suspended a player and a groundsman who allegedly agreed to tamper with the pitch to alter the result of an upcoming Test against England, as police launched an investigation into the claims.
The Sri Lankan board (SLC) said it had suspended the curator of the Galle International Stadium as well as a professional player, who were featured in an Al Jazeera documentary on corruption in cricket.
The board also lodged a complaint with the local police, who launched a criminal investigation into the scandal exposed by the Doha-based television network.
"Sri Lanka Cricket decided to suspend with immediate effect the alleged individuals involved in the said incident against whom the ICC is carrying out investigations," the board said.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Saturday it was investigating allegations involving the two Sri Lankans and a former Indian player, urging "all evidence and supporting material" to be shared with the investigators.
Tharindu Mendis, a player from Colombo, and Tharanga Indika, the curator of the Galle International Stadium, were featured in the documentary broadcast on Sunday, which showed them talking about doctoring pitches during a meeting with an undercover reporter.
The men were reportedly discussing ways to prepare the pitch to ensure that the first Test at the Galle ground in November against England would not end in a draw and would yield a result in less than four days.
SLC said it has appointed a three-member panel to study the issue and make recommendations to prevent any corruption at future tournaments in Sri Lanka.
A former curator of the Galle International Stadium, Jayananda Warnaweera, is already under an ICC ban for three years until January 2019 for failing to cooperate with a previous anti-corruption investigation.
Warnaweera, a former Test player, had failed to attend interviews with the ICC's anti-corruption unit. He had been previously handed a two-year ban by the local board over the same allegations.
Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match fixing in the past, but Warnaweera is the highest ranking official punished so far.
Although no big-name Sri Lankan player has ever been convicted of corruption, several former stars have made allegations of either match fixing or spot-fixing -- when players deliberately bowl or field badly to give away a set number of runs.