Mohamed Salah backed to finish World Cup as winner of the Golden Boot

Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah is fancied to cap off a remarkable season by winning the Golden Boot. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018

Mohamed Salah backed to finish World Cup as winner of the Golden Boot

  • Egyptian beats Ronaldo and Messi in top-scorer poll
  • Hopes are high that an Arab nation could go deep into the tournament

Doubts over the fitness of Mohamed Salah has not dissuaded fans from believing the Egyptian superstar will finish the World Cup as the top-scorer.
The Liverpool forward is back in training after injuring his shoulder in the Champions League final at the end of last month, but Egyptian officials are keen not to rush him back and are being coy over his return date. He has an outside chance of facing Uruguay on Friday but a more realistic target is the games against Russia and Saudi Arabia, two matches against the lowest ranked sides in the competition when Salah could fill his goalscoring boots.
He had a hand in all seven of Egypt's goals in qualifying, scoring five and creating two — and football followers are expecting him to add to his international tally of 33 in 57 games.
He tops the table of who fans think will be the highest goal scorer at the tournament, with one in six (17 percent) fans across the 11 countries surveyed in a YouGov Omnibus/SMG Insight believing he will win the Golden Boot. His figures are boosted by significant support from home: 52 percent of Egyptian football followers say he will take the prize won by James Rodriguez in 2014. Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is in second place (15 percent) followed by Barcelona Lionel Messi in third (13 percent).
The Arab world is represented by four nations, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt — and there is huge optimism among football fans in the Middle East and North Africa that one of them could go all the way. One in five (21 percent) Moroccan fans with an opinion believe their side will win, despite sports data firm Gracenote giving them just a one per cent chance of lifting the World Cup. The Moroccans go into the tournament on the back of an 18-match unbeaten run. Likewise, 19 percent of Egyptians think their side will win and 14 percent of Saudi Arabians expect success (Gracenote put the odds for both teams lifting the trophy at 0%).
The most avid followers, according to the survey, can be found in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where 41 percent and 40 percent respectively of those with an interest in football say they intend to watch “all or most” of the matches.

Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

Updated 53 min 48 sec ago

Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

  • The Riyadh Formula E race will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, with all eyes on the Ad Diriyah track
  • Formula E supremo Alejandro Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport

RIYADH: With motor racing star Felipe Massa set to make his Formula E debut, the inaugural Saudi Arabia E-Prix in Riyadh was always likely to be a stunning spectacle of speed.

But the sport’s supremo Alejandro Agag has promised race fans yet more big surprises before the green light signals go at the Ad Diriyah street circuit on Dec.15, claiming the Kingdom is “the home of Formula E.”

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi Arabian capital, Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport and predicted the country would have a big influence on its future.

“This is now the home of formula E,” Agag said.

“Thanks to the vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed, for the first time in Saudi Arabia these cars will be here, it’s the motorsport of the future.”

While he refused to reveal any of the big announcements surrounding the race he did praise the forward thinking of a country with the largest oil exports in the world going full-throttle in embracing electric cars.

That forward thinking has been matched away from the track, with Agag acknowledging the Vision 2030 reforms made by Kingdom’s rulers over the past two years.

“We could not race in Saudi Arabia if women could not drive. I think that Saudi Arabia is taking the right steps, and that is what attracted us,” the Spaniard said.

Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, so all eyes will be on the Ad Diriyah track. Located in the birthplace of the Kingdom the circuit, revealed last month, has excited the drivers, Agag revealed.

The drivers cannot wait for the season to start in Riyadh, they are looking forward to racing around the new track, he added.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah gate development, is certain the Middle East’s newest track will not disappoint the racers and all the petrolheads set to descend on the capital.

“The preparations are fabulous,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Everybody has to come out and see it, it will be so much fun.”

Touching on plans for the wider development, to be announced in the coming weeks, he added: “It’s going to be the jewel of the Kingdom as it already is. There is a very bold masterplan, but when you see what is planned, Ad Diriyah as it should be is going to be the great gathering place for people all around the world. It is certainly the soul of the Saudi nation.”