Amro Tarek's American Dream is the key to his Pharaohs fantasy with Eygpt

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Major League player Tarek has major ambitions with the Egypt national team. (Getty Images)
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Updated 12 September 2018
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Amro Tarek's American Dream is the key to his Pharaohs fantasy with Eygpt

  • Orlando City player happy in the MLS and has set his sights on playing at the next World Cup.
  • The left-back has found favor with new Pharaohs boss Javier Aguirre.

LOS ANGELES: There was no sympathetic one-on-one chat with Hector Cuper to inform Amro Tarek that his dreams of going to the World Cup were over.
The simple squad announcement of the final 23 players dispassionately told Tarek that he was one of six culled from Egypt’s preliminary group of hopefuls. The defender was unceremoniously grounded, while his compatriots boarded the flight to Russia. He would return to club employers Orlando City and watch the Pharaohs’ underwhelming displays in Group A from afar.
But Tarek is neither bitter at being left out of Egypt’s final squad, nor at the lack of a gentler approach from former head coach Cuper. After just one previous cap for his country — last year’s friendly against Togo — the 26-year-old accepted that he was not part of the core who had secured a first World Cup appearance in 28 years.
Instead, the central defender is channelling his focus into playing a part in the African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign and the 2022 World Cup bid by sufficiently impressing newly appointed head coach Javier Aguirre.
If first impressions are anything to go by, then Tarek is certainly on Aguirre’s radar after he was named in the squad for last week’s 6-0 rout over Niger.
“It’s a new chance for everyone under the new man,” said Tarek.
“Of course, it was hard for me to watch the World Cup. But I was okay with it. I hadn’t been with the group for long, so it was good for me to even be included in the preliminary squad. Like any Egyptian, I was able to support the team.
“It was motivation for me for 2022. My goal is the same, to keep working hard and to eventually join them and play for the national team.
“We didn’t win a game at the World Cup, which is bad, but the big positive is that we reached the finals after 28 years, which was a very long time.
“We have to learn from that experience as a country and make sure we’re prepared for 2022.”

Ex-Egypt boss Hector Cuper left Tarek out of his World Cup squad this summer. 


Tarek believes his chances of being at the heart of the Egypt line-up over the next four years have been boosted by his loan move from Wadi Delga to Orlando last February — a deal which is due to be converted into a permanent switch at the end of the MLS season next month.
He had previously been something of a journeyman after spells in Germany, Spain, Egypt and briefly in MLS with Columbus Crew, but he has become a regular at Orlando this season; starting 18 games for a team that has struggled toward the bottom end of the Eastern Conference.
With footballing standards in the States on the rise and big name signings Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading across the Atlantic in recent months, Tarek believes he is playing on a stage where his international credentials will be noticed.
“Yes, I think it has helped me a lot because it is such a competitive league,” said Tarek, who was born in Los Angeles before moving to Egypt as a child.
“If I continue starting with my team, then it will help my chances. There’s a lot of talented players here and it keeps growing each year.”
Of course, Tarek is far from the only member of the Pharaohs squad to be plying his trade outside Egypt. Of the 23-man squad for the World Cup, nine are currently based in either Europe or the US. Aguirre’s first squad went one step further, with 13 players from overseas clubs.
While the likes of Mo Salah and Mohamed Elneny remain Egypt’s Premier League trailblazers, there are plenty of others operating at a high level, whether that be the English Championship, MLS or Turkish Super Lig.
Tarek is in a good position to assess the standards of playing both domestically and abroad. After the turmoil of the 2011 revolution had subsided, he enjoyed three spells in the Egyptian Premier League with El-Gouna, ENPPI and Wadi Degla. But he believes the combination of home-based players and those based further afield can only be beneficial to the side’s development.

The Orlando City player has found favor with new Egypt coach Javier Aguirre having been named in the squad for last week's clash against Niger.  

He added: “Football in Egypt was in a very good position until we had the problem in 2011, which took it down again.
“But now I think it’s improving a lot and keeps improving each year.
“We have a bunch of players now playing outside Egypt too who are all playing at a high level with good clubs. That can only be good for the national team.”
Tarek hopes MLS continues to be a happy hunting ground for Egyptian players looking to further their careers overseas.
At the start of the MLS season, Orlando City’s Tarek was one of three Egyptian internationals playing their club football in North America, alongside Ali Ghazal at Vancouver Whitecaps and Omar Gaber at LAFC. Gaber’s stint in Los Angeles proved to be short-lived after he returned to the Egyptian Premier League by joining Pyramids FC last month.
However, Tarek — who became the first Egyptian to play in MLS when he had a brief spell at Columbus Crew two years ago — is eager to see more of his compatriots follow him across the Atlantic.
“Everyone can see how good the league is now and I hope there’s more Egyptian players that come out here,” he said.
“It will be good for the national team if we can have a lot of us playing in MLS.”
Tarek initially joined Orlando on a season-long loan from Wadi Delga in February, yet there is a clause in the contract for the deal to be made permanent and the Florida club are expected to exercise that option at the end of the season.
Despite Orlando currently lying second bottom of MLS’ Eastern Conference, the 26-year-old is eager to stay at the club, which recently appointed former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder James O’Connor as manager in a bid to reverse their fortunes.
Tarek added: “I like the MLS and playing at Orlando.
“It’s a great city, so I would very much love to stay.
“We’re trying to improve in each training session and each game; working on our defensive shape as a team because we’ve conceded a lot of goals.
“We are on the right path, but we have to keep working hard and work with the coach.”


Max Verstappen threatened to ‘punch’ Esteban Ocon after Brazil Grand Prix crash

Updated 12 November 2018
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Max Verstappen threatened to ‘punch’ Esteban Ocon after Brazil Grand Prix crash

SAO PAULO: Max Verstappen was accused of trying to punch French rival Esteban Ocon after a controversial clash at Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix which was won by five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull star Verstappen was seen on TV pushing Force India’s Ocon three times and accused of threatening to hit him, after the pair had collided on track.
The collision cost Verstappen the race and he had to settle for second place.
The livid Dutchman, 21, had earlier said he did not see the Frenchman in the paddock after the race, but made no effort to avoid him in the drivers’ weighing room where he walked straight at him.
“We were at the scales room,” said Ocon. “He wanted to punch me. He pushed me and he was wanting to be violent. It was not professional.”
Ocon added that his rivalry with Verstappen “goes back a few years” and said he “has always been the same. I’m used to the fights with Max. He’s always been the same. It goes back a few years.”
Verstappen swore so much on team radio that his comments bleeped out after he described him as an “idiot.”
Ocon was given a 10-second stop-go penalty by the race stewards for causing the collision.
A video clip of the post-race incident went viral soon afterwards but Verstappen said he had no regrets.

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Max Verstappen and Sebastian Ocon’s coming-together at the Brazilian Grand Prix has clearly been brewing for a while after years of simmering tensions. Given both could well be challenging for the world championship in the future, it is intriguing how it will play out. Here Arab News looks at other times there was no love lost between sport stars.

Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss
Absolute chalk and cheese characters. Pietersen was an abrasive, brash and fiery cricketer. Strauss, almost universally respected in the game, the complete opposite. And the pair’s relationship was strained considerably when Pietersen sent disparaging texts to South African players (and England’s opponents) about Strauss. Awkward.

Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy
Ireland captain Keane lost the plot and stormed out of his country’s 2002 World Cup preparations when he criticized coach McCarthy’s approach and accused him of being a liar. McCarthy questioned Keane over a newspaper interview he had given, and the two started a long-running feud. The incident was even turned into a stage play.

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
Another duo who were polar opposites, albeit both supremely talented in their own ways. While Ali won two of their three epic bouts, their rivalry did prompt two of the best insults in sport, with Ali saying his Manila bout with “the gorilla” Frazier would be a “chilla, and a killa, and a thriller,” and Frazier’s more understated response: “If he was thirsty in the desert, I’d drive right by.” Ouch.