Egypt rule out pricey Zlatko Dalic as new coach after Hector Cuper axed

After guiding Croatia to the World Cup final Zlatko Dalic is in demand.
Updated 25 July 2018
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Egypt rule out pricey Zlatko Dalic as new coach after Hector Cuper axed

  • The Pharaohs rule out making a move for Croatia hero.
  • Dalic is looking for a salary in excess of $5 million.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has dismissed reports linking the vacant national team head coach position to Croatia World Cup hero Zlatko Dalic as unrealistic.
The Pharaohs are on the hunt for a new coach after Hector Cuper’s contract was not extended following Egypt’s early exit in June. Under the Argentine, Egypt endured a disappointing tournament, losing all three of their matches against Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia to finish bottom of Group A.
At the same time, Dalic was leading Croatia to the final in Russia only to be denied the title by a 4-2 defeat at the hands of France in Moscow. As well as the results, Dalic and his team won plaudits for their style of play.
Reports in Cairo and Croatia suggested that the EFA was preparing a move for Dalic, with the 51-year-old tactician yet to confirm whether he will be staying with Croatia, the post he took in October last year after three years with Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates.
“Of course we would be interested in Dalic if there was a chance,” an EFA official told Arab News.
“Everyone saw the job he did at the World Cup and Croatia were the opposite of Egypt, they played with adventure, skill and spirit. However, it was never a realistic option for us. Cuper’s salary was already very high but it would be nothing compared to what we would need in order to attract Dalic. It was never going to happen.”
Cuper was reportedly the highest paid national team coach in Africa before his departure, receiving an annual sum of around €1.5 million ($1.75 million). According to Croatian media, should Dalic decide to leave his post, he will be looking for a salary well in excess of that figure.
“Like it or not, I am the second best coach in the world,” Dalic told Croatian newspaper Vecernji list in an interview earlier this week.
“And this figure of $5 million per year for the second coach of the world is too small.”
Dalic is on the shopping list of a number of teams as the next cycle of football continues after the end of the World Cup.
“Even if we could afford him, he is now in demand and if he decides to look for a new job then he will get plenty of offers from Europe,” the Egyptian official added.
Dalic may be off the table but the EFA, with qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations continuing in September, has confirmed they are looking for a foreign coach, naming four candidates at the top of the shopping list.
The front-runner is Javier Aguirre. The 59-year-old has experience in Spain, took his native Mexico to the second round at the 2010 World Cup and has time in the Middle East under his belt following two seasons with Abu Dhabi club, Al-Wahda.
Next in line is Vahid Halilhodzic, Aguirre’s successor as head coach of Japan in 2015. The Bosnian has been heavily linked with a return to Algeria, a team he led to the second round of the 2014 World Cup. He then qualified Japan for the 2018 tournament, only to be fired two months before the tournament kicked off after poor results and reports of player unrest.
Also in the mix is Quique Sanchez Flores, the former Atletico Madrid and Watford coach, as well as being Dalic’s predecessor at Al-Ain, though the Spaniard’s lack of national team experience could count against him. Jorge Luis Pinto has plenty of experience, with spells in charge of Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras, but has no Middle Eastern experience on his CV.
As for Cuper (above left), the former Valencia and Inter Milan boss is set to be announced as new coach of Uzbekistan within the next few days as the Central Asians prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup in January.


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.”