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.


Virat Kohli refuses to take anything for granted as India prepare to face depleted Australia

Updated 20 November 2018
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Virat Kohli refuses to take anything for granted as India prepare to face depleted Australia

  • Australia are still without Steve Smith and David Warner following their bans for ball tampering.
  • Kohli, however, refuses to accept India are huge favorites to beat the hosts.

SYDNEY: India captain Virat Kohli insisted Australia still have the quality to upset his side in their Twenty20 series and said his team will be focusing on the “little things” to come out on top.
The visitors open their tour with the first of three T20s in Brisbane today ahead of four Tests and three one-dayers that will keep them in Australia until late January.
In the short format, they have been by far the better team in recent times. Australia have also been weakened by ball-tampering bans to key batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner.
“We definitely have a very strong side,” said Kohli, who last month became the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in one-day internationals, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record.
“When we step on the field we have 11 individuals striving for excellence, they want to be the best they can.
“Those are the dynamics that have allowed us to play the cricket that we are and hopefully we can build on that.”
Despite Australia being without Smith and Warner — who will need to serve their full 12-month bans for ball-tampering, after Cricket Australia Tuesday ruled out any reductions — Kohli is adamant the hosts still pose a big threat.
“There’s no denying the quality they have in their side,” he said.
“They still have world-class cricketers, though missing out on two of the world’s best batsmen in not ideal for any team.
“But the guys they have, especially in the limited-overs game, can do damage at any point in time. You can never underestimate any side. We’re won’t be taking anything for granted.”
India arrived in Australia on the back of a home thrashing of the West Indies, but their form traditionally is more fragile on the road.
Kohli said they planned to “do the little things right so we can win more situations than the opposition.”
“We definitely believe we have the quality to win, but it will boil down to how we think in each moment in every game we play.”
Australia were beaten in both white-ball formats by South Africa in recent weeks, but skipper Aaron Finch is confident they can turn their fortunes around with a more assertive approach.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come out and express ourselves, play some great attacking cricket, take the game on and really try and take it to India,” he said Tuesday.
And Finch believes they are close to winning their first series since new coach Justin Langer took over, after Darren Lehmann stepped down following the tampering row.
“India are in great form but we feel as though we’ve been building really nicely without getting results going our way so far,” he said.