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.


Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Updated 31 October 2020

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

MADRID:  Real Madrid will be hoping to leave their sticky patch behind them when they play Huesca in La Liga on Saturday, with an early six-point lead to preserve over Barcelona.

The resignation of Barca’s club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overshadowed what has been a dramatic week for Madrid, who barely salvaged a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 with three minutes left, Madrid were facing a defeat that would have squandered the momentum gained from last weekend’s Clasico win at Camp Nou.

A late double from Karim Benzema and Casemiro ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side snatched a draw that felt like a win but to consolidate that positivity, they cannot afford another slip this weekend.

“The team is what it has shown, it’s about a reaction,” said Zidane. “The first half was very good, we played well. The pity is we conceded the first goal, but we continued to think it was possible, even at 2-0.

“That showed the character of the team and I’m very proud of them. We are not happy because we want to win, but we must be happy with the performance.”

Madrid play a Huesca side that is yet to win this season, as they followed four consecutive draws with a 4-1 loss away at league leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zidane could also hand Eden Hazard his first start since August, after the Belgian came off the bench in midweek.

That was Hazard’s first appearance of the season as he tries to overcome his latest injury setback, which the club have only described as a muscle injury.

“It’s good. I’m here to play football,” said Hazard on Wednesday. “After two or three months off the pitch, I’m so happy. I just want to play football, that’s why I’m here.”

On the last-gasp draw in Germany, Hazard said: “We showed great character, to be 2-0 down with five minutes to play, I think we could have scored one more, I could have scored one more, but I missed. It’s not three points but it feels like a victory.”

Zidane was determined to give Hazard time to recover fully and he believes the club will have to be cautious.

“He’s just started playing. It is his first game after a long time away,” said Zidane. “The plan was for him to try to play but little by little is what we have to do.”

A Madrid victory against Huesca could send them back to the top of the table, above Real Sociedad who are the only team to have retained top spot in consecutive rounds so far this term.

Real Sociedad play away at Celta Vigo on Sunday, just before third-placed Granada host Levante and struggling Valencia play at home to Getafe.

If Atletico Madrid win their two games in hand they will go top, with Diego Simeone’s side away at Osasuna on Saturday.

Barcelona, who beat Juventus on Wednesday, also have two games in hand but are seven points off the lead. Their new era without Bartomeu begins in La Liga away at Alaves on Saturday night.