Even Mohamed Salah can’t stop Egypt from spiralling out of World Cup

Mohamed Salah struggled to hide his disappointment at Egypt's defeat to Russia. (AFP)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Even Mohamed Salah can’t stop Egypt from spiralling out of World Cup

  • Liverpool star is now fit but game against Saudi Arabia will be a dead rubber
  • Question marks over future of coach Hector Cuper

ST PETERSBURG: Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted that Monday’s final Group A game in the 2018 World Cup against Saudi Arabia is almost certain to be a matter of regional pride and not much else.
The North Africans sank to a second consecutive defeat on Tuesday, losing 3-1 to hosts Russia in Saint Petersburg. Following a painful last-minute loss to Uruguay in the opening game, it leaves Egypt stuck on zero points and facing early elimination.
Now the focus is on the all-Arabian clash against their regional rivals in Volgograd.
“We still have a game to play against Saudi Arabia and we will give our all in that game but our chances (of going to the second round) are minimal,” Cuper said. “It is important we perform well in that game and get the right result.”
The Spaniard has faced questions from the Egyptian media as to whether he will still be in the hotseat after a disappointing time in Russia. He intends to see out the tournament.
“I hope to continue as coach but that is a decision that does not depend on me. If those responsible want to me leave then that is what I will do.”
Mistakes at crucial times in the two games have cost Egypt. After losing 1-0 to Uruguay, the Pharaohs were solid against Russia, who had defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 five days previously in Group A, in the first half.
Three goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half virtually ended Egypt’s World Cup.
Cuper was happy with the team’s defensive performance in the first half but was left to lament the first period after the restart.
“The game lasted 94 minutes and we had a very bad 15 minutes early in the second half and that is why we lost,” said the Argentine. “It wasn’t a lack of concentration but we did make mistakes. We lacked a little luck to get the ball into the net. I am happy with what we have done but you have to make the most of your goalscoring opportunities.”
Saudi Arabia will have to deal with a fully fit Mohamed Salah.
The Liverpool forward, who scored 44 goals in the 2017-18 season for Liverpool, scored Egypt’s only goal in his first appearance since sustaining an injury against Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League final in late May.
“Of course, we would have preferred if he had not been injured but it would have been especially good if he had been able to train with the team for the three weeks we had at the same intensity as the other players. We missed that."
Cuper said Salah is desperate to play as much as possible in the World Cup. “I was told by the medical staff that the player was good and felt good. It may have been different if he had been fit for the World Cup but we will never know.
“We have played well mostly, apart from short periods when we have made mistakes The players have given everything and I can’t complain about their effort and this has been a great experience for them. There is still a game to go however and that is now what we have to think about.”


Francesco Molinari sees off Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods to win maiden major at the Open

Updated 22 July 2018
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Francesco Molinari sees off Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods to win maiden major at the Open

  • At the age of 35, he becomes the first Italian ever to win a Major
  • Molinari had started the day three shots behind a trio of overnight leaders in Schauffele, Kisner and Spieth

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland: Italy’s Francesco Molinari emerged from the pack on a thrilling final day at Carnoustie to win the British Open on Sunday, seeing off the challenges of reigning champion Jordan Spieth and a revived Tiger Woods to win the first major of his career.
At the age of 35, he becomes the first Italian ever to win a Major, after keeping his cool in remarkable fashion when almost all around him seemed to be losing theirs on a windy afternoon.
A two-under-par round of 69 on the Scottish links allowed him to finish on eight-under, two shots clear of the quartet of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner.
Molinari had started the day three shots behind a trio of overnight leaders in Schauffele, Kisner and Spieth, who were all nine under par when they teed off.
The latter had been hoping to become the first player since Padraig Harrington a decade ago to retain the Claret Jug, but he faded with a final-round 76 to finish on four under par.
Meanwhile Woods, who was playing with Molinari, was in the outright lead at one point on Sunday but ended with a 71 to finish in a tie for sixth with England’s Eddie Pepperell and Kevin Chappell of the United States.