'Mohamed Salah is not superman' says Kuwait coach ahead of friendly with Egypt

Mohamed Salah will miss Friday's game with Kuwait because he is preparing for the Champions League final. (Getty)
Updated 23 May 2018
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'Mohamed Salah is not superman' says Kuwait coach ahead of friendly with Egypt

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait coach Radojko Avramovic is disappointed his players will not get the chance to test themselves against Mohamed Salah on Friday night, but still feels the friendly against Egypt is an important step on their road to recovery.
While Salah will be preparing for the Champions League final against Real Madrid, Kuwait will host Egypt in Kuwait City in what will be only their fourth match since FIFA lifted a two-year ban on the side over government interference in management of the country’s football federation. There have been friendly defeats at the hands of Jordan and Cameroon in March before a 2-0 win over Palestine on May 11.
“For a long time, we did not play and it will take time to recover,” said Avramovic. “Each game we play, we see an improvement and that is the target. We are starting to play some good football. We played well in the second half against Cameroon and against Palestine.”
Egypt will be a different level of opponent. “Now we can see how good the players really are, but we are at home and want to give the fans something to cheer,” said Avramovic.
The North Africans, who have been drawn with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Arabian rivals Saudi Arabia in Group A, are not just missing Salah. Aston Villa’s Ahmed Elmohamady is preparing for a Premier League promotion playoff, while Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny is recovering
from injury.
Avramovic is curious as to how his defenders would have handled Salah. “He is one of the best players in the world and it would have been good for us to test ourselves against him, but he has an important game,” said the former Notts County goalkeeper.
“Everyone in the Arab world is proud of him and he is a great example of what can be done. He shows the future of Arabic football and it is the same for Kuwait. It is good to go to other countries and face different kinds of players.”
The coach, who led Singapore from 2003 to 2012, is wary of Egypt, even without their talisman. “He is a great player, but Egypt didn’t qualify for the World Cup just because of him —  he is not superman. They have lots of good players. This game is a great chance for us to see where we are. We want to be playing at World Cups in the future and this shows us how far we have to go. At the moment, we are focused on winning games and not just trying players out.”
After Kuwait, Egypt, who started their pre-World training camp in Cairo on Monday, travel to Italy to take on Colombia and then to Brussels to face Belgium on June 6. The team kicks off their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on June 15.
“We are trying to reach the best form before the World Cup. This game will be very important for us,” Egypt coach Hector Cuper said earlier this month. “The Egyptian fans will attend the match against Kuwait — they are waiting for us and we want to please them.”


London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

Updated 16 August 2018
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London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

  • Super Cup final in UK capital can boost Saudi football's image around the world, claims SAFF official
  • SAFF defends number of foreign players allowed to play in Saudi Pro League claiming they help raise the standard.

LONDON: Saturday’s Super Cup final between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in London will not just be a great experience for the players, but also a chance to showcase the best of Saudi Arabian football on an international stage ahead of what should be a season to remember.
That is according to Luai Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF)ahead of the cup clash at Loftus Road, the home of Queen’s Park Rangers. The match is the traditional season curtain-raiser that features the champions and the winners of the King’s Cup. And with holding fixtures overseas a growing trend in modern football, Al-Subaiey told Arab News the decision to play the match in London was a no-brainer.
“Club teams from one country playing in another country is commonplace,” Al-Subaiey said.
“Teams from the English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese leagues played in the US this summer. The Spanish Super Cup was played in Morocco last week.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London, (roughly) 300,000 people there.”
Al-Subaiey and Co. are confident that a great game in London this Saturday will be a springboard to a great season to come, especially with leading clubs in the country active in the international transfer market.
With eight overseas players allowed in Saudi Arabian teams in the upcoming Saudi Pro League season, there have been concerns that opportunities for local talent could be reduced. Al-Subaiey, however, believes that importing quality players can only be a good thing.
“Foreign players in the Saudi League will help improve the quality of football,” he said.
“But it also needs to be managed and balanced with the need to nourish domestic talent and provide our homegrown players with a pathway to the top.”
International stars such as Omar Abdulrahman have a part to play in the development of the Saudi Pro League and its ambition to be one of the leading leagues in the world. The United Arab Emirates playmaker joined Al-Hilal earlier in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million — the second highest in football history.
As well as Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal have signed Peruvian international Andre Carrillo, who scored at the World Cup this summer, as well as former Barcelona defender Alberto Botia. Al-Nassr have bought Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Leicester City and Nordin Amrabat from Watford.
“Has Wayne Rooney added something to DC United and the MLS? Has Omar Abdulrahman added to Al-Hilal? Of course, additions like these improve the quality of football,” Al-Subaiey said. “For the fans, these players bring excitement, and for the clubs and their league, these players bring a higher profile and greater attention — but there is something deeper too.”
For the official, what the best players bring is attitude and the utmost professionalism.
“Central to high performance sport is the right mindset. People like Rooney and Abdulrahman bring a great work ethic and possess great skills — but they also possess a professional mindset. And the young players who will work with them will see this, experience this — and learn from this.”
If all goes according to plan Saudi Arabia will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and perhaps even
progress to the second round for the first time since 1994. In Russia the Green Falcons started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the hosts in the opening game in Moscow. The team tightened up before losing narrowly to Uruguay, and then going on to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final game.
“We were absolutely delighted to be at the World Cup,” Al-Subaiey said.
“As you can tell with teams like Italy, Holland and the USA not qualifying and teams like Germany and Argentina not progressing (far in the tournament), the standard of play in international football is very high.
“Our particular group was quite challenging, and our initial game against host Russia, one of the biggest surprises of the World Group, was a difficult first match. Our final game, our win against Egypt, was a World Cup high point for our team. It was a match our young players and our national program can build on.”