Classy Santiago Solari full of praise for valiant Al-Ain after Real Madrid victory

Having celebrated his team lifting the FIFA Club World Cup trophy, Real Madrid’s Santiago Solari was as classy as ever afterwards as he lauded the valiant efforts of their vanquished Emirati opponents Al-Ain. (AFP)
Updated 23 December 2018
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Classy Santiago Solari full of praise for valiant Al-Ain after Real Madrid victory

  • The European champions cruised to a third straight Club World Cup title over UAE side
  • Solari was full of praise for the UAE side

LONDON: Having celebrated his team lifting the FIFA Club World Cup trophy, Real Madrid’s Santiago Solari was as classy as ever afterwards as he lauded the valiant efforts of their vanquished Emirati opponents Al-Ain in Saturday’s final.
The European champions cruised to a third straight Club World Cup title with Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos on target in a 4-1 victory.
Solari, who continues to deal with rumors surrounding his future after former Los Blancos coach Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United, named a strong side including Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale.
And despite the one-sided affair, Solari was full of praise for the UAE side.
“Al-Ain’s performances were fantastic all through the tournament.
“Al-Ain was the only team that was not a continental champion, but they eliminated the Oceania champions, the African champions and River Plate to be here — they deserved to play the final.
“They fought hard and put in a lot of effort, so after the game I was congratulating them for the effort they put into the competition,” the Argentine said.
Solari was also pleased with the commitment and focus shown by his own players in winning the tournament.
“This title closes the season with gold, to be able to win three Champions Leagues in a row and now three FIFA Club World Cup titles in a row is history.
“It is something very difficult to do and it will be very difficult to equal this. This team has made history,” he said.
“We are all happy, we expected to win the match and we were focused, and we brought our energy and we are very happy to have achieved this goal. The next step is going on vacation, we deserve it.
“After losing two finals and winning one as a player, now I have this title as a coach. It’s a wonderful tournament, more beautiful than before, and I leave this competition with a lot of happiness,” Solari said.

“The team is used to repeated success. The more you win, the more difficult it gets. I enjoy seeing the players enjoy it and the value they give to it. We were very serious about the tournament,” he added.

However, his counterpart Zoran Mamic was pragmatic about the result, noting how playing four high-intensity matches in 10 days took its toll when it mattered most.
“Congratulations to Real Madrid, they deserved to win the trophy. We played good football with lots of quality and, in the end, we played a good tournament. It was very hard for us because this was our fourth game in ten days.

“We just didn’t have enough power to make life difficult for Real Madrid. We had some good chances and good situations, especially in the first half, but if you want to make life difficult for a team like Real Madrid you have to take your chances and we didn’t. We have to learn how to play with the big guys,” he said.

“We should be proud of what we have achieved. Before the tournament, no-one thought Al Ain would get to the final, so we should be proud.

“The biggest plus for me is that the team believed they could get a good result in this tournament and achieved it. 

“As a coach, I’m happy the team followed our instructions and tried to do what we prepared them for in the final. It’s a great thing that my players know they can play at a higher level and good for me to know I have lots of quality in the team,” Mamic said.

When pressed about his future in the UAE and with Al-Ain, the Croatian said he was happy to be with the Abu Dhabi club and was focused on his job at hand.

“It’s no secret that my dream is to be a manager or coach in Europe, but I am here, in Al-Ain and I am happy here.

“This club has given me the chance to be part of this great competition, and take part with Al-Ain, a great club and biggest team in this area. In the future, we never know. 

“For every coach and player, it’s always a dream to go to a bigger league. I played in Germany for nine years, I speak German. Maybe on day something comes, but you never know.

“I am concentrated on my job, will do it properly and we’ll see what comes along.”


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”