Javier Aguirre calls for Egypt to go up a level after Mohamed Salah super show

It was a winning start for new Egypt boss Javier Aguirre. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Javier Aguirre calls for Egypt to go up a level after Mohamed Salah super show

  • The Pharaohs excel on new coach's debut in Alexandria.
  • Salah scores two and sets up two to take international goal tally to 39.

LONODN: Egypt coach Javier Aguirre hailed his side after a 6-0 thrashing of Niger got qualification for next year’s African Cup of Nations back on track, but the new boss warned Mohamed Salah and Co. that he expects better in future matches.
Salah put his uneasy relationship with the Egyptian Football Association to one side as he scored two, made two and missed two penalties in Alexandria as the Pharaohs moved on from their sorry showing at this summer’s World Cup.
The result was even more important after they had lost the opening game in Group J of qualification against Tunisia last year, but Aguirre, the former coach of Mexico, Japan and Atletico Madrid, was not completely satisfied.
“The players did not carry out all the instructions given,” Aguirre, appointed in August to succeed Hector Cuper who presided over the dismal World Cup campaign, said after the game.
“I am satisfied with the training camp that we had and this was a factor in what was a big win but we should not get carried away as we may not be able to beat other opponents with such a big scoreline.”
There was much to appreciate however as the 59 year-old Mexican pointed out.
“The players combined well because they have a good relationship with each other. We’ve only been training for four days, we’ll be better after four years,” he added.
Despite Salah’s fine performance, when the Liverpool star became the third-highest goalscorer for Egypt with 39 goals to his name, Aguirre pinpointed Aly Ghazal, the Canada-based defender earning a recall to the national team for the first time in four years, as the star of the six-goal show. Ghazal marshaled the backline in impressive fashion with Baher El-Mohamadi and Salah Mohsen enjoying fine debuts.
“Ghazal was the best player and was impressive but overall, it is a good start but we still have a lot of work to do,”Aguirre said.
The one piece of bad news for the hosts was that of West Bromwich Albion defender Ahmed Hegazi will miss the next qualifier against Swaziland in October through suspension.
Overall however, fans were delighted with the big win. Cuper was criticized for overly-defensive tactics during his time in the Egypt hotseat and Aguirre was appointed partly because of his reputation for more progressive, attacking football. Egypt were a relentless attacking force throughout the match and would not have been flattered with a much more convincing scoreline.
Niger coach Francois Zahoui explained that a combination of individual mistakes and the skills of Salah put the game beyond his team.
“We made too many errors in the opening period and we were then always chasing the game,” Zahoui, who admitted that he had voted for the Liverpool striker to win Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, said. “He was a real danger tonight and he never gave our defenders a second to settle.”
Elsewhere, Morocco also bounced back from an early exit from the World Cup and an opening defeat in African qualification to beat Malawi 3-0 in Casablanca to move into second in Group B behind Cameroon.
Hakim Ziyach opened the scoring after just three minutes and Youssef En-Nesyri grabbed the other two.
“We need to keep getting good results,” Morocco coach Herve Renard said. “Consistency is the most important aspect. We have a good team and a strong foundation and we just need to incorporate a few younger players over time. We have been moving forward over the past two and a half years and need to continue in the same direction.”
Algeria stayed on top of Group D despite being held to a 1-1 draw in Gambia. Baghdad Bounedjah gave the Fennecs the lead just after the break only for Assan Ceesay to level the game within two minutes to earn a point for Gambia.


Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

Updated 25 September 2018
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Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

  • Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut
  • Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation”

Noor Nugali Riyadh: Felipe Massa cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a Formula E car and jumpstart his new career when the spectacle of speed storms into Riyadh for the season opener on Dec. 15.
The Saudi Arabia capital was named as the newest stopping point for the sport in May, with it being the first race of a 13-race season, which sees the electric-powered cars tackle street circuits across the globe.
Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut, having left the Formula One paddock for the growing sport. And the 37-year-old told Arab News he is excited about the prospect of tackling the streets of Ad Diriyah, the oldest part of the capital, in one of the electrically powered speed machines.
“I am ready for the race. It’s a fantastic feeling driving around the city, the town, it’s historical. It will be a big event,” Massa said at press conference to announce Saudi Arabian Airlines’ new long-term partnership as official airline partner of the all-electric series.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this new challenge for my career. In a new place and country, it’s motivating.”
Having won 11 Grands Prix during an illustrious career in F1, during which time he raced for Ferrari, some might think Massa would not be daunted by the move to Formula E. The Brazilian, however, is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s a big challenge for me to change categories, to Formula E,” he said, having got a chance to put some early practice in as he took a Gen2 car around the streets of the capital.
“Learning everything is a challenge. It’s different cars, different tracks and a different way of driving. I need to learn and grow to understand but I like new challenges.”
Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation” and it is hoped that the Ad Diriyah race helps the changing face of Saudi Arabia by inspiring more women to get behind the wheel in the Kingdom — something not lost on Massa.
“I heard that women are driving (in Saudi Arabia) now and that’s fantastic — hopefully in the future there will female racers,” he said.
“We are racing in a country (whose main export is oil), and we are racing with electric cars. I think it shows that this country wants to change its mentality and its thinking of the future. It’s really positive and I’m so happy to be a part of this.”
Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia.
But rather than look to bring F1 to the country his Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice-chair of the General Sports Authority, revealed that Formula E was the only format they wanted to see in the capital.
“This is a truly game-changing moment for Saudi Arabia and one that we can share with the world,” he said. “It is very fitting that the such a futuristic and sustainable sport as Formula E is pointing to the future direction of our country.
“Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport, many of whom simply cannot believe that Felipe Massa took the Gen2 car around the streets of the capital today and that they now have a ‘home race’ on the Formula E calendar. So already the excitement is building, especially since we’re adding live music concerts to the weekend line-up.”
The track Massa and Co. will be tackling this December was revealed at the press conference. At 1.76 miles long, the first road circuit in the Middle East features 21 corners, a number of which are long flowing ones taken at high speed. It is hoped that the race will get both Saudi Arabia’s entry to the sport and the season itself off to a spectacular start, and in doing so inspire a new generation of speed demons.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “Something we haven’t announced yet, is that there will be a support race for Formula E.
“It’s the Jaguar I-Pace trophy, it will race around the world with the Formula E circuit.
“Saudi Arabia will participate in that championship as a national team with two Saudi Arabian drivers and we will announce the names soon.”