Egypt defeat is no big deal, claims coach Javier Aguirre

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It was a frustrating match for the Pharaohs in Nigeria. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2019
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Egypt defeat is no big deal, claims coach Javier Aguirre

  • Pharaohs coach claims side can learn a lot from the defeat.
  • Aguirre rested several big names, including Salah, for the friendly.

LONDON: Javier Aguirre claimed his hopes for Egyptian success at this summer’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) have not taken a hit after the Pharaohs’ 1-0 defeat in Nigeria.
Aguirre’s side were a goal down through a Paul Onuachu strike after just eight seconds and looked toothless in Asaba just three months before Egypt host the biennial continental battle. It was the Mexican’s first defeat as Pharaohs coach — coming in his sixth match in the dugout, a run that included five wins and a draw. Before the clash, however, Aguirre decided to try out some of the squad’s younger players dropping big names such as Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Hegazi, and that means he is not bothered by the loss against one of Egypt’s rivals for the continental crown this summer.

The Egypt boss was in relaxed mood after the 1-0 defeat in Nigeria. (AFP) 


“I think that it was a match we tried our best but the difference was the first five second of the game,” Aguirre said.
“My main target was to examine new faces by giving them a chance; a game that we played in difficult weather conditions.
“Sure I wanted to win the match despite the fact that the result wasn’t influential.
“The (match against) Nigeria match (provided a good) experience. I asked for this game as Nigeria are among the strongest teams in Africa.
“Resting big names like Mohamed Salah was to give the chance for new faces.
“We have benefited a lot from the game as we tried a number of fresh faces amid our strategy to strengthen the team ahead of the African Cup of Nations.”
After last year’s World Cup disappointment, when Salah and Co. lost all three matches in Russia to finish bottom of Group A, there will be a lot of pressure on the Pharaohs to do well in front of their expectant fans. Aguirre was brought in to not only achieve success but to do so with more flourish than his predecessor, Hector Cuper. The Argentine was considered too risk-averse and alienated many fans with the drab, dull football Egypt served up during his time in the dugout. Taking place at home, after Cameroon was stripped of hosting rights following serious delays with its preparations, and in the summer rather than usual winter spot, Aguirre is ready to take on the pressure and looking forward to the tournament.
“For me as a coach, I prefer (to play it) in summer. In January and February, not all the eyes of the world are in the African cup,” the Mexican said.
“Now in the summer, you will see lot Americans, Asians, Europeans who want to be here in the competition to watch young players in the tournament; it is going to be better for Africa and of course, the weather will be good then.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”