Football star Salah included in top FIFA candidates list

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah misses a chance as Burnley’s Nick Pope attempts to save during a recent match in England. (Reuters)
Updated 08 September 2019

Football star Salah included in top FIFA candidates list

  • Nomination triggers debate in Egypt over his Premier League performance this year

CAIRO: Egyptian Liverpool player Mohamed Salah has been included in the FIFA FIFPro World11 candidates list, which includes 55 nominations for 2019.

Salah, who plays right wing, won the 2019 UEFA Champions League, and holds two top-scorer awards for the Premier League in the last two seasons.

But his nomination has triggered debate in Egypt over his Premier League performance this year, and his relatively poor play in the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer.

“I was a bit surprised to see him named after his performances last season,” said Amr Hassan, political and sports analyst at Euronews.

“Salah had a great season, finished as the Premiership’s top goal scorer and helped Liverpool win the Champions League … but by his own standards and compared to the season before, he underachieved.”

Salah was also criticized for supporting his teammate Amr Warda, who was accused of harassment during the Africa Cup of Nations and was temporarily banned from the squad.

“This year, Salah unnecessarily got involved in off-the-pitch incidents like supporting Amr Warda after he was accused of sexual harassment, only to come back later and say that Warda needs rehabilitation,” Hassan said.

“The stance was very contradictory to what he previously said about the need to respect women in the Middle East,” Hassan added.

“It affected his performance with Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations, which was a massive disappointment to all Egyptian fans.”

Host country Egypt was ousted in the round of 16 by South Africa. Activists launched a wave of criticism against Salah for his support of Warda, who was dubbed the “harasser.”

After the Africa Cup of Nations, Salah thanked fans in a tweet, and promised that he and other team members would learn from the mistakes made during the tournament.

“People in Egypt have mixed emotions about Salah,” said sports analyst Marwan Negm. “Most people are fanatics when it comes to his achievements with Liverpool. However, a lot of people were disappointed with the African tournament in terms of his commitment and his support for Warda.

“Many thought he should’ve stepped up in the cup, which he didn’t do. He absolutely gave everything but wasn’t successful. Nevertheless, I’d say the majority love him, and they follow Liverpool because of him.”

According to FIFA, the World11 is decided by players, and involves votes from thousands of professional footballers from across the world.

During voting, players each select one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forward.

The final list will be announced at the Best FIFA Football Award ceremony at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on Sept. 23.


Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

Updated 23 October 2019

Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

  • Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals

PARIS: Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe both scored second-half hat-tricks in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday as Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur all recorded big victories.
Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich labored to wins on a night which brought 30 goals in eight games, a third of which were scored by Premier League clubs.
Sterling’s three goals came 11 minutes apart in the second half as Pep Guardiola’s City thumped Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium to maintain their perfect record in Group C.
The Italians had earlier taken the lead from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s 28th-minute penalty, but they were soon overrun and remain without a point in their debut Champions League campaign.
Sergio Aguero equalized from a Sterling assist and the Argentine scored a penalty to put City ahead before the break. Sterling then took over, although City finished with 10 men as Phil Foden was sent off late on.
“I should have had four. Riyad Mahrez put me through and I was looking to put one on a plate for him. But I went through and should have finished it,” Sterling admitted to BT Sport.
City’s will seal a place in the last 16 if they win away to Atalanta next, as nearest rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb played out a 2-2 draw in Ukraine earlier.
Yevhen Konoplyanka and Brazilian substitute Dodo netted for Shakhtar, with Dinamo’s goals coming in between from Dani Olmo and a Mislav Orsic penalty.
Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals in PSG’s 5-0 romp away to former European Cup runners-up Club Brugge in Belgium in Group A.
Mauro Icardi scored twice for the French champions, who were without the injured Neymar but had Angel Di Maria in exceptional form — the Argentine set up four goals.
According to sports statisticians Opta, the last player to come off the bench and score a hat-trick in the Champions League was Spaniard Joseba Llorente for Villarreal in 2008.
“I wanted to start and I thought I was going to start, but the coach made his choice and I had to accept it. I also wanted to show that it’s difficult to get by without me,” Mbappe told French broadcaster RMC Sport.
PSG have a maximum nine points, are yet to concede a goal in Europe this season and will be through to the last 16 with a win at home to Club next month.
Below them, Real Madrid are up to second after claiming their first win in Europe this season. Eden Hazard set up Toni Kroos for a first-half strike that handed them a 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, there was a welcome win for Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, who crushed Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in north London, three weeks on from their 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the same venue.
Captain Harry Kane scored twice for Spurs either side of a Son Heung-min brace and an Erik Lamela goal as they moved up to second place in Group B on four points.
“We know we have had a tough run of results and that was the perfect way to respond,” said Kane.
They remain five points behind group leaders Bayern Munich, for whom Robert Lewandowski bagged two in a 3-2 win at Olympiakos that maintained their perfect record.
The Pole has 18 goals this season and 58 career Champions League goals — only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Raul and Karim Benzema have more.
Youssef El Arabi gave Olympiakos the lead, but Lewandowski’s brace either side of half-time changed the game and Corentin Tolisso fired in a magnificent third before Guilherme pulled one back.
In Turin, Juventus needed a late Paulo Dybala pair to come from behind and beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in Group D.
Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russians the lead on the half-hour and it took a stunning strike by Dybala to bring the Italian champions back level with 13 minutes left.
Moments later the same player scored from the follow-up after Alex Sandro’s shot was saved.
Juve are level atop Group D on seven points with Atletico Madrid, who edged out Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 thanks to Alvaro Morata’s 78th-minute header.