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.


Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

City were humbled by French side Lyon in Manchester. (Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

  • City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign

MANCHESTER, England: If Manchester City wants to finally win a first Champions League title, it will have to start taking the competition a bit more seriously — on and off the field.
Surrounded by swathes of empty seats in the Etihad Stadium, City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign on Wednesday.
Banned from the touchline and unable to communicate with the bench, City manager Pep Guardiola did fill one seat in the stands and he saw his Premier League champions easily picked apart by the French visitors.
“We felt under threat every time we lost the ball and sometimes that brings the confidence a little bit lower,” said City assistant manager Mikel Arteta, who was in charge on the bench in Guardiola’s absence.
Errors by midfielder Fernandinho led to both Lyon goals, typifying how careless City was against a team that finished third in the French league last season and was even held to a draw at the weekend by 10-man Caen.
When a pass by the Brazilian midfielder was intercepted around the halfway line, Lyon charged forward. Nabil Fekir sent in a cross from the left that evaded Fabian Delph’s swinging legs, allowing Maxwel Cornet to slot it home in the 26th minute. Delph held his head in his hands as the consequences of his mistake became clear.
City’s troubles deepened when Fernandinho was caught in possession again. Memphis Depay set Fekir on a run and the forward doubled Lyon’s lead in the 43rd by striking through the legs of John Stones.
“It was a difficult game,” said Depay, who struggled to make an impact at Manchester United before leaving after two seasons in 2017. “But when we had the ball we tried to play and when we won the ball we tried to counterattack.”
Perhaps the only reason for City to feel aggrieved in the first half was Gabriel Jesus being denied a penalty when he was tripped by former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva just before Depay scored.
“To concede two goals like we did is very frustrating,” Stones said. “We came in at halftime a bit deflated I think. But we picked ourselves up and we came out second half fighting and played a better second half.”
But the improvement wasn’t sufficient.
City pulled one back in the 67th when Bernardo Silva scored from substitute Leroy Sane’s cutback. But the attacking threat was too patchy from a City side that won the Premier League with a record 100 points only four months ago, and are widely seen as one of the big favorites in this season’s Champions League.
“I suffered as I was scared they’d score a second goal,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “We would have taken 2-2 before the match but given the way the game went we’d have been disappointed not to leave with the three points.”
With Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk also in Group F, City appeared to have one of the kinder draws but is now playing catch-up.
Celebrating a decade under Abu Dhabi ownership, which allowed City to assemble a squad for more than $1 billion, the Champions League is the one big prize the club has yet to win.
But City fans still have a fraught relationship with Europe’s premier competition.