Javier Aguirre in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt

Javier Aguirre is in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt, perhaps as early as this week. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2018
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Javier Aguirre in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt

  • The Mexican heads a shortlist of four candidates, released last week
  • Bosnia’s Vahid Halilhodzic, Quique Sanchez Flores of Spain and Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto also being considered

LONDON: Javier Aguirre is in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt, perhaps as early as this week.
The Mexican heads a shortlist of four candidates, released last week, that includes Bosnia’s Vahid Halilhodzic, Quique Sanchez Flores of Spain and Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
One of the quartet will definitely succeed Hector Cuper, whose three-year reign as Pharoahs’ boss ended after the recent World Cup. The Russian campaign saw the side lose all three matches — to the hosts, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. There was also a lot of criticism of Cuper’s tactics, which were seen as overly cautious and defensive. As result the EFA is keen to have not only a new face but also a fresh approach.
The body is looking to make a swift appointment with qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations resuming in September, with Aguirre is the likeliest man to get the nod, according to an official at the Egyptian Football Association.
“He should arrive in Egypt in the next few days to enter the final stage of negotiations and if there are no obstacles that arise then Aguirre will get the job and it should happen quite quickly,” the official told Arab News.
“Halilhodzic has admirers but Aguirre ticks all the boxes with the experience and success he has had and also the way his teams usually play football.”
An EFA board member and part of the task force formed to find a new coach, Essam Abdel-Fatah has also sung the Mexican’s praises.
“At the moment, he is the closest to the national team as he has considerable experience and a high profile, he said, referring to the 59 year-old’s varied international career.
“He has coached the national teams of Japan and Mexico as well as club teams like Espanyol in Spain and also was the coach of Al-Wahda in the United Arab Emirates,” added Abdel-Fatah.
The deal is not quite done yet, however.
“The negotiations with the four coaches who were part of the shortlist have gone well, all four of them,” Abdel-Fatah said before revealing that the list does not have to be limited to four as the Mexican coach from the 2018 World Cup became available at the end of last week.
“There are other coaches who could be considered who were outside the original nominations, like Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio.”
With Flores lacking national team experience and Pinto never having coached outside South or Central America, the job looks to be, however, Aguirre’s to lose. Also in the 59-year-old’s favor is that Halilhodzic, his main rival for the job, is in demand elsewhere. South Korea are interested in the coach sacked by Japan in April, as are his former team Algeria. Halilhodzic led “The Fennecs” to the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where they gave eventual winners Germany a huge scare, taking the match to extra time before losing 2-1.
Whoever gets the job will have to work with a local assistant who will act as a link between the players and the coach as well as the coach and the federation.
“It is important to have an Egyptian coach involved in the development of the national team,” Abdel-Fatah said. “We haven’t made a decision as to who the assistant will be. That will be discussed after we hire the head coach and discuss their training staff.”
It may be useful to have some local expertise especially as star player Mohamed Salah is, according to reports during the World Cup, considering quitting the national team. The Liverpool star was apparently upset at being used for political and propaganda purposes by the controversial Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, where Egypt were based during the tournament.
On the pitch, the first big test for the new man will be a vital 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger on Sept. 7. Egypt are looking to bounce back from their opening game defeat at the hands of Tunisia in Group J, one that also contains Swaziland.


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 21 April 2019
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Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.