Javier Aguirre in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt

Javier Aguirre is in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt, perhaps as early as this week. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2018

Javier Aguirre in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt

  • The Mexican heads a shortlist of four candidates, released last week
  • Bosnia’s Vahid Halilhodzic, Quique Sanchez Flores of Spain and Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto also being considered

LONDON: Javier Aguirre is in pole position to be appointed head coach of Egypt, perhaps as early as this week.
The Mexican heads a shortlist of four candidates, released last week, that includes Bosnia’s Vahid Halilhodzic, Quique Sanchez Flores of Spain and Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
One of the quartet will definitely succeed Hector Cuper, whose three-year reign as Pharoahs’ boss ended after the recent World Cup. The Russian campaign saw the side lose all three matches — to the hosts, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. There was also a lot of criticism of Cuper’s tactics, which were seen as overly cautious and defensive. As result the EFA is keen to have not only a new face but also a fresh approach.
The body is looking to make a swift appointment with qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations resuming in September, with Aguirre is the likeliest man to get the nod, according to an official at the Egyptian Football Association.
“He should arrive in Egypt in the next few days to enter the final stage of negotiations and if there are no obstacles that arise then Aguirre will get the job and it should happen quite quickly,” the official told Arab News.
“Halilhodzic has admirers but Aguirre ticks all the boxes with the experience and success he has had and also the way his teams usually play football.”
An EFA board member and part of the task force formed to find a new coach, Essam Abdel-Fatah has also sung the Mexican’s praises.
“At the moment, he is the closest to the national team as he has considerable experience and a high profile, he said, referring to the 59 year-old’s varied international career.
“He has coached the national teams of Japan and Mexico as well as club teams like Espanyol in Spain and also was the coach of Al-Wahda in the United Arab Emirates,” added Abdel-Fatah.
The deal is not quite done yet, however.
“The negotiations with the four coaches who were part of the shortlist have gone well, all four of them,” Abdel-Fatah said before revealing that the list does not have to be limited to four as the Mexican coach from the 2018 World Cup became available at the end of last week.
“There are other coaches who could be considered who were outside the original nominations, like Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio.”
With Flores lacking national team experience and Pinto never having coached outside South or Central America, the job looks to be, however, Aguirre’s to lose. Also in the 59-year-old’s favor is that Halilhodzic, his main rival for the job, is in demand elsewhere. South Korea are interested in the coach sacked by Japan in April, as are his former team Algeria. Halilhodzic led “The Fennecs” to the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where they gave eventual winners Germany a huge scare, taking the match to extra time before losing 2-1.
Whoever gets the job will have to work with a local assistant who will act as a link between the players and the coach as well as the coach and the federation.
“It is important to have an Egyptian coach involved in the development of the national team,” Abdel-Fatah said. “We haven’t made a decision as to who the assistant will be. That will be discussed after we hire the head coach and discuss their training staff.”
It may be useful to have some local expertise especially as star player Mohamed Salah is, according to reports during the World Cup, considering quitting the national team. The Liverpool star was apparently upset at being used for political and propaganda purposes by the controversial Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, where Egypt were based during the tournament.
On the pitch, the first big test for the new man will be a vital 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger on Sept. 7. Egypt are looking to bounce back from their opening game defeat at the hands of Tunisia in Group J, one that also contains Swaziland.


SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

Photo/Supplied
Updated 13 July 2020

SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

  • Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has announced its first outdoor event of the summer season, a series of competitive walk-runs called Step Together.
The first Step Together virtual walk-run is open to individual and teams. Participants can register from July 17 until the closing date of July 26.
Adults taking part can choose to complete either a 42 kilometer full marathon or a 21 kilometer half marathon over a period of 10 days, commencing on July 17. Children under the age of 15 taking part in the challenge will complete a shorter 10 kilometer race over the same period.
The event is the first organized by the SFA since lockdown restrictions were eased. It is designed to appeal to all ages, abilities and demographics by offering both walk and run options. Participants who meet the distance goals will be awarded with finishing medals and electronic certificates celebrating their achievement.
Participants will be able to use their own preferred digital fitness tracker. They will upload data and images every day to the race platform to register progress and compare their results with other participants on the race leaderboard.
Community sports groups (CSGs) are also encouraged to join Step Together, with the event featuring an exclusive leaderboard for groups. Members of CSGs can complete simultaneously in both individual and group categories.
Registered users will each receive email confirmations with a unique link and instructions for the Race Result platform.
The dedicated link allows each participant to enter distance and elapsed time each day, validated by a screenshot from any digital fitness tracker.
A results tab on the platform allows users to enjoy friendly competition and compare results with other participants.
There are also leaderboards for various categories on the same page, including age, gender and distance.
Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months.
The aims to promote a renewed excitement and energy for outdoor fitness.
A recent SFA report said there was a 60 percent increase in walking in Saudi Arabia since March, while running became 30 percent more popular.
The report added that the increases mainly came from people who were previously less active.
The SFA aims to further encourage enjoyment of physical fitness within this demographic.

Step Together participants can register on the Race Result platform at sfa.sa/STen.