Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi welcomes participation of Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is expected to play some part in Egypt's Group A campaign. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi welcomes participation of Mohamed Salah

  • Green Falcons set to meet Egypt on June 25
  • Salah is expected to recover from shoulder injury by then

Juan Antonio Pizzi is happy Mohamed Salah will be in Russia even though the Egyptian ace could dump Saudi Arabia out of the World Cup.
A lot of the pre-tournament focus has been on Salah’s shoulder — the hopes of a nation resting on the healing powers of the Liverpool star who injured it during his side’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
While it is still not known when he will be able to play, Salah did make the Egypt squad and all the noises coming out of the camp are that he will be able to get back on the pitch sooner rather than later. That means he is more than likely to line-up against Saudi Arabia in the last game in Group A, a match that could prove pivotal to both sides’ hopes of making the knockout stages.
“We are happy that Mohamed Salah is in the Egyptian squad of 23 and will be playing in the World Cup,” Green Falcons boss Pizzi said.
“We appreciate the efforts that Salah has done to be here. We know that (he) has played well for six months with Liverpool. He (has been) a great player with them and scored many beautiful goals.”
All the focus on Salah and his shoulder has removed attention away from the other 22 players, which, considering the side is without a win this year and lost 3-0 to Belgium on Wednesday, is no bad thing. But Pizzi is all too aware that a belief that Egypt without Salah, or with a misfiring Salah, are easy fodder would be wrong.
“We respect the all Egyptian National team and not just Mohamed Salah,” he said.
Before they face Egypt, however, Saudi Arabia come up against Russia on Thursday and Uruguay six days’ later — the outcomes of which will determine whether the Green Falcons go into the Egypt clash with everything still to play for.
The World Cup opener against the hosts will be Pizzi’s first competitive match as Saudi Arabia coach; the eyes of the globe will be watching but Pizzi is remaining calm.
“Sure, we have faith in our players and in the way they were prepared. It is my first World Cup opener as a coach for a national team. We have prepared the players in the best possible way and we gave them all they needed to be at the highest levels. We will wait and see how things will go in the first game.
“Of course we will play the first match and that is exceptional and everybody will be excited. We have high hopes regarding this game. All the media, people and fans are waiting for this game.”


‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

Updated 22 October 2018
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‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

AUSTIN: Sebastian Vettel said he felt mixed emotions after keeping his slender title challenge alive by finishing fourth in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, won by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The four-time champion, who started fifth on the grid after taking a three-place penalty, recovered from an opening lap spin to fight through the field in a tactical contest that left Lewis Hamilton frustrated in his bid to clinch his fifth drivers world title.
“My feelings? Mixed,” he said. “Happy. Really happy for Kimi. But not much for me. It should have been a better day.”
Vettel can only stop Hamilton taking his fifth drivers title next weekend in Mexico by winning the race and hoping Hamilton hits problems that keep him out of the top seven places.
He said he suffered a major blow when he clashed with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.
“I must have been in his blind spot. I’m not sure he saw me. The corner kept tightening and we hit. It was a big loss for me.”
Vettel’s disappointment took nothing away from a resurgent Ferrari’s satisfaction in recovering their mid-season pace, after abandoning several recent upgrades, and claiming a revitalising victory.
“I am very proud of them all,” said Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene.
“I was always proud of the guys and even more when we are winning races. It’s been hard for us recently and we had a race engineer pass away last weekend.... I have nothing more to add. It was great today. Thank you USA!“
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff admitted that Ferrari had been faster than his team, as he had feared.
“We lacked the pace and I said don’t close it too early. They are very fast. Kimi winning is great for him and for Ferrari, so let’s go to the next race in Mexico now.
“It was difficult to overtake, but for us it was a strategy that got worse as it progressed. We need to re-think and see what we can do better. We put on a good show altogether and that’s what’s more important.”