Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt hands Cuper a win in his first game

Argentinian coach puts three cameras on the field to monitor players, reports Marawan Zayed

cuper
cuper
Al-Ahram Weekly

It wasn’t entertaining, it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t the best start for Hector Cuper in terms of performance but a win is a win as long as you score and don’t concede.

This basically sums up Egypt’s  2-0 win over Equatorial Guinea. Hector Cuper of Argentina will no doubt feel satisfied with a win in his first game with the national football team as he tried 16 players in the win that arrived in the last four minutes thanks to strikes from Zamalek’s Bassem Morsi and Ahly’s young sensation Mahmoud “Trezeguet”.

Cuper started his first game in a 4-4-2 formation with the following line-up: Sherif Ekrami; Hazem Emam, Ahmed Hegazi, Rami Rabia, Hussein Al-Sayed; Ahmed Al-Mohamadi, Ibrahim Salah, Mohamed Al-Nenni, Mahmoud Trezeguet; Emad Meteb (captain), Mohamed Salah. Hot shot Salah of Fiorentina on loan from Chelsea supported Meteb at the front.

The first half was as dull as it gets as our Egyptian stars seemed so keen and desperate to prove themselves to the new manager which somehow affected their performance negatively. Too many misplaced passes and lack of concentration were the main drawbacks of the first half, however, we could have finished it leading by at least two goals as Trezeguet and Meteb missed clear-cut chances. First, Salah’s magnificent pass sent Trezeguet one on one with the goalkeeper but the young star over hit his shot as it sailed over the bar. Minutes later Egypt came close again this time through the captain Meteb but his shot once again missed the target. The last few minutes in the first half saw improvement in the performance of the national team but there was no breakthrough as it ended a goalless draw.

The second half saw many changes in the line-up as Cuper shuffled his team. Zamalek’s striker Morsi came on for Al-Mohamadi, pushing Salah to the right wing, as Morsi took up the second striker position next to Meteb. Ahly midfielder Hossam Ghali came on for Ibrahim Salah, and Ali Gabr replaced Fiorentina’s on-loan Perugia defender Ahmed Hegazi. Another Zamalek striker in the form of Khaled Qamar came on later to replace Meteb as the second striker, and Saleh Gomaa replaced Al-Nenni in midfield.

The changes had their say in the game as the national team picked up where they left off in the first half and attacked aggressively, looking for the goal but without really finding clear chances until the last 20 minutes. Substitute Saleh Gomaa nearly broke the deadlock but his wonderful freekick in the 74th minute was saved brilliantly by the keeper before Salah missed the biggest chance of the second half five minutes later as he wasted a one-on-one chance after breaking through. Ahly’s new star Momen Zakaria replaced Salah two minutes later to make his international debut.

Finally, the much awaited goal arrived in the 86th minute after Morsi and fellow substitute Gomaa combined to break the deadlock thanks to an easy finish from close range into an open net from Gomaa’s sublime cross.

The last few minutes in the game witnessed some great football from Egypt as rising star Trezeguet found the back of the net after magnificently skipping with ease past three opponents before firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner to seal the win in style.

After the game, Cuper saluted the performance of his team and lauded the skills of the players at his disposal, describing them as “an extremely skillful bunch of players who are quickly learning what I need from them”. He added it will take some time before he finds out his best starting eleven and that he’ll give all the players an equal chance to impress in the coming months as thy get ready for the qualifying rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“The win is very important as it gave everyone the perfect start against a team that shone in the Africa Cup of Nations” were the final words for Cuper. After the game, he had a meeting with the players in the hotel to discuss how they fared in the game and what he needs from them in coming games.

In order to get the best out of his players Cuper requested three cameras on the pitch, one following the defenders and their positioning, one for the strikers and their positioning and one following the ball and the game in general to ensure he monitors his players as closely as possible.

A technical specialist will work with Cuper and the players on the results to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. The initiative is applied for the first time in the history of Egypt but is used but many other nations and has always proved a success, according to Cuper. Reports from inside the Egyptian camp indicate that the players are very happy with Cuper and his methods so far and that he’s spreading positive energy between the players and the coaching staff which is much needed between the players ever since the league stopped nearly two months ago following a soccer stampede which killed 20 people.

The league is set to return this week which was also lauded by Cuper as he insisted that players need to play week in, week out to shine with the national team.


The writer is a freelance journalist

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