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

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.


VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

Updated 17 August 2019

VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

  • Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time
  • VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte

LONDON: Four months later, Manchester City was denied another crucial late goal against Tottenham by an intervention from the video assistant referee.
Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time in a wild English Premier League match at Etihad Stadium on Saturday when he curled home a finish after the ball landed at his feet following a corner. The Brazil striker waved and danced in front of City’s jubilant fans, unaware the on-field referee had been told the goal was under review.
VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte as the City defender stretched to head it. Newly implemented rules say a foul should be awarded if a goal is scored from an accidental handball.
The goal was disallowed, much to the anger of Jesus and City’s frustrated fans, and the match finished 2-2. The final whistle was greeted with loud boos inside the stadium as the English champions dropped points in the second match of their title defense.
Back in April, almost the exact same thing happened to City when Spurs visited for a Champions League match. On that occasion, Raheem Sterling had a goal disallowed for offside by VAR in the third minute of injury time, denying City a place in the semifinals.
City manager Pep Guardiola didn’t drop to his knees and look as crestfallen like he did in April. Instead he engaged in conversation with Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino in the technical area as confusion reigned around him.
“I thought we left that situation against Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same,” Guardiola said. “The referee and VAR disallow it. It’s the second time, it’s tough. It’s honestly tough.”
Guardiola will wonder how his team didn’t win.
Twice taking the lead in the first half, through Sterling and then Sergio Aguero, City was twice pegged back by Tottenham, first by Erik Lamela and then by Lucas Moura 14 seconds after he entered the field as a substitute.
The diminutive Brazil winger ran straight toward the penalty area to line up for his team’s corner and rose highest — somewhat improbably — to send a glancing header looping into the net in the 56th.
Aguero was substituted soon after that goal and exchanged some strong words on the sideline with Guardiola as he sat down. The pair was seen embracing near the end of the match, however, suggesting they patched up their differences.
The result leaves City two points behind Liverpool, the team expected again to be its biggest rival for the title.
Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 earlier.
ADRIAN’S CRAZY WEEK
In the space of nine days, Spanish goalkeeper Adrian has made his Liverpool debut as an injury substitute, saved the decisive penalty to win the club the UEFA Super Cup, got injured by a pitch-invading fan, and made an embarrassing error in a Premier League game.
To say it has been a roller-coaster start to life at Anfield would be an understatement.
Adrian, an offseason signing filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, was a doubt for Liverpool’s match at Southampton after a fan slid into the goalkeeper’s ankle while the team celebrated his crucial penalty stop in a shootout win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. He was declared fit on the morning of the match and made some good saves before Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-0 up at St. Mary’s.
Adrian ensured there was a nervy finish when he kicked a clearance straight at Southampton striker Danny Ings and saw the ball rebound into the net in the 83rd.
Liverpool hung on, though, for a second straight win after beating Norwich.
PUKKI PEAKING
Teemu Pukki scored a division-high 29 goals to proper Norwich to the second-tier League Championship title last season.
He cannot stop scoring in the Premier League, either.
After his consolation goal at Anfield on the opening weekend, the Finland striker added another three in dismantling sorry Newcastle as top-flight soccer returned to Carrow Road.
“The guys are creating chances — I could have scored more,” Pukki said.
Newcastle has lost both of its opening games under new manager Steve Bruce.
AUBAMEYANG AGAIN
Another striker to have started the season strongly is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has grabbed winning goals in each of Arsenal’s first two games.
A week after scoring the only goal at Newcastle, Aubameyang led Arsenal to a 2-1 win over Burnley with a shot inside the near post from the edge of the area. He was tied as the top scorer last season with Liverpool attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The standout player for Arsenal, though, was Dani Ceballos, who is on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. He set up both goals — the first was scored by Alexandre Lacazette — and showed the touch and vision Arsenal has been missing since the departure of another Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla.
WINS FOR EVERTON, BOURNEMOUTH
Everton and Bournemouth got their first wins after opening the season with draws.
Brazilian winger Bernard scored in the first half to secure a 1-0 victory for Everton against Watford, while Bournemouth built on a second-minute penalty from Josh King and beat Aston Villa 2-1.
Jack Grealish, the Villa captain, has lost a record 20 straight Premier League games, stretching back to when the team was last in the top flight in 2015-16.
Brighton and West Ham drew 1-1 in the other match.