Egypt rule out pricey Zlatko Dalic as new coach after Hector Cuper axed

After guiding Croatia to the World Cup final Zlatko Dalic is in demand.
Updated 25 July 2018

Egypt rule out pricey Zlatko Dalic as new coach after Hector Cuper axed

  • The Pharaohs rule out making a move for Croatia hero.
  • Dalic is looking for a salary in excess of $5 million.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has dismissed reports linking the vacant national team head coach position to Croatia World Cup hero Zlatko Dalic as unrealistic.
The Pharaohs are on the hunt for a new coach after Hector Cuper’s contract was not extended following Egypt’s early exit in June. Under the Argentine, Egypt endured a disappointing tournament, losing all three of their matches against Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia to finish bottom of Group A.
At the same time, Dalic was leading Croatia to the final in Russia only to be denied the title by a 4-2 defeat at the hands of France in Moscow. As well as the results, Dalic and his team won plaudits for their style of play.
Reports in Cairo and Croatia suggested that the EFA was preparing a move for Dalic, with the 51-year-old tactician yet to confirm whether he will be staying with Croatia, the post he took in October last year after three years with Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates.
“Of course we would be interested in Dalic if there was a chance,” an EFA official told Arab News.
“Everyone saw the job he did at the World Cup and Croatia were the opposite of Egypt, they played with adventure, skill and spirit. However, it was never a realistic option for us. Cuper’s salary was already very high but it would be nothing compared to what we would need in order to attract Dalic. It was never going to happen.”
Cuper was reportedly the highest paid national team coach in Africa before his departure, receiving an annual sum of around €1.5 million ($1.75 million). According to Croatian media, should Dalic decide to leave his post, he will be looking for a salary well in excess of that figure.
“Like it or not, I am the second best coach in the world,” Dalic told Croatian newspaper Vecernji list in an interview earlier this week.
“And this figure of $5 million per year for the second coach of the world is too small.”
Dalic is on the shopping list of a number of teams as the next cycle of football continues after the end of the World Cup.
“Even if we could afford him, he is now in demand and if he decides to look for a new job then he will get plenty of offers from Europe,” the Egyptian official added.
Dalic may be off the table but the EFA, with qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations continuing in September, has confirmed they are looking for a foreign coach, naming four candidates at the top of the shopping list.
The front-runner is Javier Aguirre. The 59-year-old has experience in Spain, took his native Mexico to the second round at the 2010 World Cup and has time in the Middle East under his belt following two seasons with Abu Dhabi club, Al-Wahda.
Next in line is Vahid Halilhodzic, Aguirre’s successor as head coach of Japan in 2015. The Bosnian has been heavily linked with a return to Algeria, a team he led to the second round of the 2014 World Cup. He then qualified Japan for the 2018 tournament, only to be fired two months before the tournament kicked off after poor results and reports of player unrest.
Also in the mix is Quique Sanchez Flores, the former Atletico Madrid and Watford coach, as well as being Dalic’s predecessor at Al-Ain, though the Spaniard’s lack of national team experience could count against him. Jorge Luis Pinto has plenty of experience, with spells in charge of Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras, but has no Middle Eastern experience on his CV.
As for Cuper (above left), the former Valencia and Inter Milan boss is set to be announced as new coach of Uzbekistan within the next few days as the Central Asians prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup in January.


Sudan’s first female football stars push for women’s rights

Updated 08 December 2019

Sudan’s first female football stars push for women’s rights

  • Sudan was once a football pioneer, joining FIFA in 1948 and co-founding the Confederation of African Football
  • Women were at the forefront of anti-Bashir protests, expressing anger against centuries of patriarchal traditions and laws

KHARTOUM: Within months of Sudan’s first women’s football league kicking off, the championship’s emerging stars are being hailed as icons for equal rights in a country transitioning to civilian rule.
Orjuan Essam, 19, and Rayan Rajab, 22, of Khartoum-based Tahadi women’s club, have scored several goals already in a tournament that would have seemed unlikely when autocrat Omar Al-Bashir was in power.
“I was thrilled to see that authoritarian rule was finally turning into civilian and that women’s rights could now be achieved,” said Essam, her long hair flowing freely as she trained at a stadium in the capital.
Sudan was once a football pioneer, joining FIFA in 1948 and co-founding the Confederation of African Football with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa at a meeting in Khartoum in 1957.
But women’s football faced an uphill battle after the country adopted the Islamic sharia law in 1983, six years before then-brigadier Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.
Bashir’s 30 years of ironfisted rule ended in April after he was ousted by the army in a palace coup following months of protests, triggering hopes that more liberal, pro-women policies would emerge.
Women were at the forefront of anti-Bashir protests, expressing anger against centuries of patriarchal traditions and laws that severely restricted their role in Sudanese society.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian-military sovereign council, which has been tasked with overseeing the transition to civilian rule as demanded by protesters.
Last month the new authorities scrapped a decades-old public order law, which primarily targeted women for “immoral acts.”
During the rule of Bashir, thousands of women were flogged or fined under the law.
Today, the launch of women’s club football is seen as a much-needed boost for women’s rights in Sudan.
Essam, who plays left midfielder for Tahadi, said the world would now know that Sudanese women are not just “meant for raising children and doing household chores.”
“Women’s rights are much more than that,” she said.
Rajab, wearing a track suit at the practice session, said the tournament was the best thing to have happened to Sudan, showcasing the country’s talented female footballers.
“We badly needed it,” said Rajab, whose aim is to score in every match.
“Hopefully, I will become a professional player overseas and return to the Sudanese team, if they choose me to represent Sudan in the next World Cup,” Rajab said.
For Essam, who reads the Qur'an every morning and wants to become a dentist, football remains a hobby.
Since the championship began on September 30, both players have won praise for their positive team spirit, with Sudanese newspapers splashing their photographs on the sports pages.
“I play as a striker... Orjuan is a left midfielder. We coordinate and make passes to each other,” Rajab said.
Their coach Ahmed Al-Fakki said the two always have a countermove to any plays their opponents make on the field.
“Their goals speak for them, they were very beautiful goals,” Fakki said, as Rajab dribbled the ball behind him.
Essam and Rajab say they owe their new-found glory to understanding parents.
Essam said her father, a football enthusiast himself, is her biggest supporter and personal coach, often correcting her mistakes during training.
“Women are now competing with men at all levels, they are even taking ministerial positions,” said her father, Essam Al-Sayed, who is a banker.
Rajab took a liking to football at a young age, mostly playing with her brother.
“My parents had no objection, they kept telling me to push on with sports,” she said.
With the success of the league and the attention the two girls have brought to the championship — which has 21 clubs participating — organizers now want to tap more talent.
“We have convinced the ministry of education to open schools for training girls in football, and we have contacted FIFA to help bring football to young children,” said Fakki, who is also involved in organizing the league.
Essam and Rajab, however, remain special to him.
“Orjuan and Rayan are capable of becoming professional footballers,” he said.
“I tell them to show the world that Sudan has talent and it is only professional players who can help develop the sport.”