Egypt coach Hector Cuper ‘optimistic’ about Mohamed Salah’s chances at World Cup

Mohamed Salah will be fit and firing on all cylinders in time for the World Cup in Russia, according to his manager Hector Cuper. (AFP)
Updated 02 June 2018
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Egypt coach Hector Cuper ‘optimistic’ about Mohamed Salah’s chances at World Cup

  • The striker was a serious doubt for the World Cup after an altercation with Sergio Ramos
  • Egypt open their World Cup campaign on June 15 against Uruguay in the Ekaterinburg Arena

LONDON: Mohamed Salah will be fit and firing on all cylinders in time for the World Cup in Russia, according to his manager Hector Cuper.
The Egypt coach said that he remains “optimistic” that the Liverpool star will feature for Egypt during the showpiece tournament.
The striker was a serious doubt for the World Cup after an altercation with Sergio Ramos on club duty for the Reds in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
However, Cuper, speaking after Egypt’s 0-0 friendly draw with Colombia on Friday, insisted medical reports look positive and Salah is edging closer to a return.
“We are optimistic, and every medical report says he will make it,” he said.
“But we still have to prepare for any situation that could happen before we start.
“Salah is not easy to replace, no doubt about that. He is a weapon for us, especially on the counter-attack, making use of his speed and his quality.”
On his side’s lackluster performance against Colombia, Cuper said: “Today we struggled in our attacking performance.
“We tried to compensate that with some team playing, but as I said in the second half we lacked stamina because we have a special condition.
“For religious reasons, players don’t drink nor eat anything, and we actually felt that.”
Egypt open their World Cup campaign on June 15 against Uruguay in the Ekaterinburg Arena.


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”