Hector Cuper confident Mohamed Salah will be fit to face Russia, but is promising nothing

Will Mohamed Salah be fit enough to face Russia? Hector Cuper is promising nothing
Updated 18 June 2018
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Hector Cuper confident Mohamed Salah will be fit to face Russia, but is promising nothing

  • Egypt face hosts needed to get at least a draw to keep their hopes of making it to the knockout stages alive.
  • Mohamed Salah missed opening defeat to Uruguay, but could make his tournament debut in Saint Petersburg.

SAINT PETERSBURG: Egypt are confident that Mohamed Salah will be fit to play in their vital World Cup clash against Russia in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday but coach Hector Cuper is making no guarantees.
Salah dislocated his shoulder in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in this year’s Champions League final in May and did not appear in Egypt’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay on Friday. That defeat means that the Pharoahs need to take something from the host nation in their second Group A match or risk being eliminated with a game to spare.
 “Salah is fit,” Cuper said.
“In the previous match, we thought he was fit but we always carry out a final test on our players and we will do the same against Russia. I hope he will be fully fit to play and I think he will fit as he is an essential part of our team. I am optimisitc.”
Earlier on Monday, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov claimed that his team, fresh after thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament on June 14, had a plan to stop the man who scored 44 goals for Liverpool this season and was named the Premier League player of the Year.
“Each coach has his own plans and must prepare how he sees fit,” Cuper said.
“Whether Salah can be stopped or not, different coaches will have different strategies.”
The former Inter Milan and Valencia boss admitted however that Salah is vital as Egypt look to rediscover their scoring touch after finding the target just twice in the six games since securing qualification for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
“Salah is one of the best players in the world. It is an honor and privilege to be his coach as he he talented but also humble and a real team player.
“Obviously he is an important player for us and I say this with the greatest respect for all the players in the Egyptian squad. When we don’t have him, we feel his absence and then we have to make alternative plans.”
Cuper has been criticized in Egypt for what was seen as overly defensive tactics against Uruguay when the team were denied a point in the last minute. The 62 year-old however refused to promise a more cavalier attitude against Russia despite the need for goals.
”We have an indentity, a personality and while it may not please everyone, that is our style,” he said.
“It has worked well for us. Maybe we have been hard-pressed to move forward but this Egyptian team has done some things very well. Everyone plays to the best of their strengths. Sometimes we just lack that last touch of the ball.”
Cuper also insisted that he did not regret selecting an extra attacker to give him more options in Russia.
“I may have made mistakes but I have no regrets. There is no point. Now we are just looking forward to the next game and are focused on getting the right result against Russia.”
Egypt finish the group against Saudi Arabia on June 25 in Volgograd.


Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

Updated 19 February 2019
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Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

  • It was Osaka's first match since she won the Australian Open — her second consecutive Grand Slam title.
  • World No. 67 Mladenovic lost for words after surprise win.

DUBAI: Naomi Osaka stumbled badly in her first match since winning the Australian Open as the world number one went down in a flurry of errors to exit the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.
Dubai-based Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic claimed a 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the third round as Osaka made 25 unforced errors.
The rout, which featured seven breaks of the Osaka serve, took barely an hour, sending Mladenovic into a Wednesday contest with Carla Suarez Navarro.
“This is my home tournament, I live here,” world No. 67 Mladenovic said. “It’s great to get a win like this in front of a big crowd.
“Beating the number one is always special.”
The second set was riddled with seven consecutive breaks of serve before Mladenovic finished off the job with a winner to the empty court on match point.
Osaka stunned the tennis world last week by announcing her split from coach Sascha Bajin despite winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US and Australian Opens.
She said earlier this week that she would not prioritize “success over happiness” when asked about the sacking, and she never looked like winning in Dubai as she also served five double faults.
Earlier on Tuesday, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova both won their opening matches, while Elina Svitolina made a strong start to her bid for a third straight title.
Kvitova, the 2013 winner, recovered from losing a first-set tiebreak to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 and squeeze into the third round.
Halep, Dubai champion in 2015, saw off 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
The Romanian said she is still feeling the effects of her weekend final defeat in Doha by Elize Mertens.
“It was a good match because I won it. I tried to finish the points faster because I’m a little bit tired,” Halep said.
“She played well, the level was pretty good. At some points I really ran very well. I’m confident. I feel good on court even if I’m tired.”
A third former world number one also advanced as Angelique Kerber beat Dalila Jakupovic 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, said she was unfazed about the early midday start to her match.
“I don’t really care if I play the first match,” the Australian Open runner-up said. “Now I’m done, so I have a free afternoon.
“I’m not sure what I’m pleased with... maybe with my comeback at the end.”