'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.


Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

Updated 47 min 58 sec ago
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Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”