5 things we learned from Egypt football team’s participation at Tokyo 2020 after loss to Brazil

5 things we learned from Egypt football team’s participation at Tokyo 2020 after loss to Brazil
The Egyptian football team in a huddle after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s quarterfinal match between Brazil and Egypt at Saitama Stadium in Saitama on July 31, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 01 August 2021

5 things we learned from Egypt football team’s participation at Tokyo 2020 after loss to Brazil

5 things we learned from Egypt football team’s participation at Tokyo 2020 after loss to Brazil
  • Pharaohs did exceptionally well to qualify to quarterfinals from Group of Death, but lack of firepower caught up with them in the end

Arab interest in the men’s Olympic football tournament ended on Saturday as Egypt lost 1-0 to Brazil in Saitama. The South Americans progress to the last four while the North Africans head home, but there was plenty to think about on the plane back to Cairo.

Here are five things we learned from the Egypt under-23 football team’s participation at Tokyo 2020.

1. Egypt survived the Group of Death

It wasn’t the most exciting of rides, but it should not be forgotten that Egypt got out of the Group of Death. There was a hard-fought draw with Spain, a valiant 1-0 defeat against Argentina and then the all-important win over Australia. To finish second behind Spain and above the South Americans in Group C is a significant achievement, and it should give the players a huge confidence boost going forward.

Like the rest of Africa, the senior team is in qualification action for the 2022 World Cup in September and should have few problems getting past Angola, Libya and Gabon into the next round. The confidence and experience from Japan should stand those players who went to the Olympics and are also part of the senior team in good stead to ensure that they make it to Qatar next year.

2. Defense was an understandable strategy, but Egypt could have done more

In four games played, Egypt conceded just two goals but scored only two as well. That tells the story of this tournament. Coach Shawky Gharib set up the team not to concede. It may not have been pretty, but it was understandable given the absences and the quality of the opposition.

Ideally, Egypt would have done what it did in the group stage — similar to England at the Euros — and then move up a gear in the knockout rounds. It is difficult when you are facing a talented Brazil team, but had the Pharaohs attacked a little more in the three group games, then they would surely have been a little more fluid going forward in the quarterfinal, which could have made all the difference. The coach could have used attacking midfielder Nasser Maher more than he did.

3. Egypt missed Mohamed Salah

It’s an obvious point, but Egypt lacked a cutting edge in attack. Defensively, the team was solid and played to those strengths. There was criticism of these tactics from some journalists and former players who felt that the team should have attacked more, and while that is easier said than done against Spain, Argentina and Brazil, they did have a point in the Australia game.

But had Mohamed Salah been present, then not only would the team have been more dangerous in attack, but the opposition would have been warier too. The Liverpool star is perhaps the Egyptian striker who can put half-chances away on a constant basis.

Brazil may have been a little more conservative had Salah been loitering with intent, and it would have relieved some of the pressure on the backline. The whole atmosphere around the game would have been different. Richarlison caused lots of problems for Egypt, but the Everton man can’t match Salah in the English Premier League. He may not have managed it in Japan either.

4. Hegazi and El-Shenawy shine

While there is little doubt Brazil deserved to beat Egypt, there is no disgrace to lose 1-0 to the South Americans. The fact that the scoreline was so tight was, in no small part, due to the heroics of goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy.

The Al-Ahly No. 1 made many saves to keep out Richarlison and company. The main duty of overage players is to bring something to the team that the younger folk can’t do, and the 32-year-old did that and more.

Ahmed Hegazi was just as much of an influence. The Al-Ittihad defender rivals the goalkeeper for the most impressive performance in the four games. It is not just about his intelligent positioning and hard work but the leadership that helps inspire the whole team. Egypt conceded just two goals in four games against some quality opposition and attackers, and these two overage stars deserve plenty of credit for that.

5. Africa falls short on the big stage once more

The Olympics is a more democratic football tournament than the World Cup. In the quarterfinals, there were two African teams and two from Asia, with South America, Oceania, Europe and Concacaf having one each. That was a good showing from Africa, but both Egypt and the Ivory Coast failed to make the last four. All the other confederations will have one representative each in the semifinals, but not Africa.

If you take Nigeria out of the equation, then the continent’s performance in recent Olympic tournaments has not been great, with talented teams going so far but failing to stay until the end. It is the same with World Cups. The best of Africa need to start turning good tournament performances into great ones.


UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team
Updated 26 September 2021

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team

UK PM urged to come to aid of Afghan girls’ football team
  • Team, some as young as 12, currently stranded in Lahore on temporary visas
  • Chairman of Premier League side Leeds United offers assistance, housing, education, training

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to help resettle Afghanistan’s junior women’s football team in Britain.
The 35-strong team plus 101 other associated people, including coaches and family members, are currently in Lahore where they have been granted temporary refuge until Oct. 12 after a personal intervention by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan helped get them out of Afghanistan after the country fell to the Taliban. 

They are being supported by the Rokit Foundation, NGO Football for Peace, and the chairman of English Premier League side Leeds United, Andrea Radrizzani, who has offered to “give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future,” helping with housing, employment for relatives, education and training opportunities with the club’s youth teams.

The team only escaped Afghanistan after an initial attempt to fly them to Qatar was scuppered by the deterioration of security in Kabul, with many of the girls facing additional threats from the Taliban on account of coming from various ethnic and religious minorities.

Rokit CEO Siu-Anne Marie Gill said the team’s departure from Afghanistan had become high-profile following Khan’s intervention, and members would be at great risk were they to return to the country.

“There were photos of their faces on TV, they will be in even more danger now,” she told The Guardian. “They’re the girls that got out. They cannot go back to Afghanistan, we have got to make this happen.”

She said she had written to Johnson to ask the UK to add the team, some of whom are as young as 12, to the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, after Australia offered sanctuary to the senior women’s team.

She added that other football clubs and local authorities in the UK have also offered support for the team should they be added to the ACRS.

Kashif Siddiqi, a former Pakistan footballer and co-founder of Football for Peace, said: “The race is on to find them a permanent safe haven. These girls were on the path for development for the national football team. Now, the very thing that gave them hope has become a risk to their life.”

The UK government said it is “urgently” looking into the matter “as part of the wider resettlement scheme.”


Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix
Updated 26 September 2021

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wins 100th Formula One Grand Prix
  • The champion reached the unprecedented century in his Mercedes after being stuck on 99 since the British Grand Prix in July
  • Hamilton also claimed the championship lead by two points from Max Verstappen, who finished second

SOCHI: Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix for his 100th Formula One Grand Prix success on Sunday.
In treacherous rain the seven-time world champion reached the unprecedented century in his Mercedes after being stuck on 99 since the British Grand Prix in July.
Hamilton also claimed the championship lead by two points from Max Verstappen, who finished second.
After taking his 100th chequered flag 14 years after his first in Canada Hamilton told his team on the car radio: “Phew. That was hard work man!“
The 36-year-old Briton looked destined to come away for the fifth race stuck on the 99 mark with McLaren’s Lando Norris firmly in command up front.
But with five laps to go, the rain that had been threatening the 15th round of the championship for so long arrived, causing mayhem.
With cars fitted with slicks starting to lose grip and coming in for intermediates Hamilton joined them, leaving Norris leading.
But with three laps left and Norris a sitting duck and sliding all over the circuit Hamilton eventually hit the front to finally nail the magic number of victories.
After jumping out of his car he said: “The rain came, it was very opportunistic, the team did a great job, I’m grateful for the points.”


Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’
Updated 26 September 2021

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’

Joshua wants Usyk rematch ‘110 percent’
  • Usyk's victory extended his unbeaten professional record to 19 wins
  • Joshua is determined to face Usyk again

LONDON: Anthony Joshua said he was “110 percent” likely to activate a rematch clause with Oleksandr Usyk after losing his world heavyweight titles to the Ukrainian in stunning fashion in London on Saturday
Usyk gave a boxing masterclass in recording a unanimous points victory to deprive Joshua of his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization belts in front of the dethroned champion’s home crowd of more than 66,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
His victory extended Usyk’s unbeaten professional record to 19 wins and scuppered the prospects of an all-British world heavyweight title unification bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury.
It also meant Usyk became just the third cruiserweight world champion after Evander Holyfield of the United States and Britain’s David Haye to also take a heavyweight title, with the 34-year-old achieving the feat in just his third professional contest in the heavyweight ranks.
The contract for this bout, however, contained a rematch clause.
And Joshua, who previously lost his belts when beaten by Andy Ruiz in New York in June 2019 before regaining the titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia six months later, is determined to face Usyk again.
“A hundred percent, 110 percent,” he told a post-fight press conference. “I’m ready to get back to training.
“There’s an old saying ‘If you want to go down as a great fighter, don’t fight southpaws’, especially good ones. He (Usyk) is a good fighter.”
Joshua suffered a badly swollen right eye which required medical attention in a fight where only the bell appeared to save him from a last-round knockout.
“I couldn’t see in the ninth round,” explained Joshua. “My eye was shut, but it was a good experience, because in adversity, you’ve just got to learn to control yourself... it’s the first time it’s happened in a fight.”
Joshua, sounding remarkably upbeat despite a convincing loss, insisted: “I’m a different kind of animal. I’m not a sulker, this is a blessed opportunity to be able to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
“Straight away I’ve already been watching the fight and figuring out what I could have done better.”
Joshua’s defeat put paid to a fight anytime soon with Fury, who defends his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas next month — the third time the pair have met after a split-decision draw and a win for Fury.
Joshua, however, insisted: “I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. It’s great, it’s legacy but with or without the belts I’ll fight whoever.”
Usyk, three years older than Joshua, also made light of giving away three inches (7.62 centimeters) in height as well as nearly 20lbs (nine kilogrammes) in weight during his latest triumph in London following a heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics — a Games where Joshua took the super-heavyweight title.
“London is a really lucky city for me but not a single professional victory can be above an Olympic gold,” said Usyk via a translator.
“At this point it is the biggest fight in my career but it wasn’t the hardest one. I cannot say (who was) but, most likely, it’s ahead of us.”
Most of Usyk’s wins have come outside Ukraine, with the new champion — who spent three months in a preparation camp away from his wife and family — adding: “I would love to have the rematch at Olympiyskiy Stadium in Kiev.”
But Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, suggested any rematch would be in Britain, in February or March.
Hearn said a defeat by the “outstanding” Usyk was easier to accept than the “bolt from the blue” that was the first Ruiz fight.
“I think in a strange way he (Joshua) enjoyed the fight because I think he knows he learnt so much and, deep down he knows he was beaten by the better man tonight,” he said.
“I think you need to credit him (Joshua) because he could have swerved that fight easy and maybe we should have, but that’s not really what he’s about.”
Hearn, who questioned whether Usyk could hit the same heights again after a “perfect fight,” added: “Anything can happen, but AJ will, I promise you, be much, much better than that in the re-match.”


Noura Al-Brahim looks toward a winning future with Saudi women’s futsal team

Noura Al-Brahim looks toward a winning future with Saudi women’s futsal team
Updated 26 September 2021

Noura Al-Brahim looks toward a winning future with Saudi women’s futsal team

Noura Al-Brahim looks toward a winning future with Saudi women’s futsal team
  • Al-Yamamah Club player is part of the squad participating in training camp in Croatia

Noura Abdulmohsen Al-Brahim of Al-Yamamah Club in Riyadh has revealed her pride in representing her country after joining the Saudi women’s futsal team in the training camp with Croatia.

“I am full of enthusiasm and desire to win and raise the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia high and to be the best possible representative for my country,” she told Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah.

Al-Brahim pointed out that the Women’s Football Department at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation has continued to provide strong moral support to all players ahead of their coming commitments in the Gulf and Asian championships.

Noura Al-Brahim with Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee President Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal. (Arriyadiyah)

On being part of the Saudi squad at the Croatian training camp, she called her experience “special and exceptional,” adding: “I’ve learned many things about the game that are new to me. This trip also allowed me to learn about different cultures and learn about new ideas and ways to play football.”

Speaking about her ambitions, Al-Brahim that her goal is to be Saudi’s best player and help the national women’s team become a force on the international stage.

As part of the camp that will run until Sept. 28, the Saudi women’s team beat Serbian team ZFK Zemun 7-5 on Thursday and dedicated the victory to the nation’s 91st National Day.


Tokyo Olympic stars to feature as world basketball 3x3 championship returns to Abu Dhabi

Tokyo Olympic stars to feature as world basketball 3x3 championship returns to Abu Dhabi
Updated 26 September 2021

Tokyo Olympic stars to feature as world basketball 3x3 championship returns to Abu Dhabi

Tokyo Olympic stars to feature as world basketball 3x3 championship returns to Abu Dhabi
  • 12 teams will take part in the International Basketball Federation tournament in October

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Masters World 3x3 Basketball, in cooperation with the International Basketball Federation, is set to take place in a custom-built arena at the UAE capital’s Marina Mall on Oct. 29-30.

The 3x3 world championships, part of the world tour, returns to the capital city for the first time in five years, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced.

This year’s championship brings together the world’s elite 3x3-basketball players as well as some of the stars that took part in the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Abu Dhabi Masters will also welcome overseas spectators after the capital opened its borders to travelers who have had the COVID-19 vaccine.

The 3x3 format, which made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, has seen a noticeable increase in popularity in recent years thanks to the simplicity of its rules and its fast pace.

“We are pleased to host the FIBA 3x3 Worlds once again in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with the International Basketball Federation,” said Aref Hamad Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

“The popularity of tri-basketball has increased after its first appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, and we are confident of the success that the tournament will achieve, especially in conjunction with the prosperity that the capital is experiencing with its agenda full of prestigious international sporting events for this season.”

The event will include 12 international teams, including four sides that are in the top five spots in the FIBA world tour.

Liman from Serbia, currently the No.1 ranked team on the world tour, will be looking to consolidate their position while the Latvian side Riga, the gold medallists in Tokyo, the Belgian team Antwerp and Dutch side Utrecht, ranked third and fourth respectively, will be challenging for the lead.

Ahead of the tournament, the ADSC will hold the Abu Dhabi Community Tri-Basketball Championship, with 24 teams in the fray from Oct. 8-15.

The winner of this qualifier will represent Abu Dhabi on Oct. 29-30.

However, it will be the top-12 ranked teams in the world tour who will travel to the Jeddah final in December.

This will be the first time the competition has been held in Abu Dhabi since two consecutive rounds were in 2015 and 2016.

Alex Sanchez, FIBA tri-basketball director, said: “The two world tri-basketball tournaments that were held in Abu Dhabi in 2015 and 2016 are still some of the most successful editions of the tournament ever, and this is exactly what prompted us to collaborate with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council once again to organize the world championship to take place in its second home.”

The Abu Dhabi 3x3 Worlds has a prize fund of $150,000 on offer. The winners will receive 40,000 while the second and third placed teams take away $30,000 and $20,000 respectively.