Friday,20 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1244, (30 April - 6 May 2015)
Friday,20 July, 2018
Issue 1244, (30 April - 6 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Salah moving up, Garrido going out

Fiorentina’s Mohamed Salah is en route to the semis of the Europa League while Ahly’s coach Garrido faces an uncertain future with the club. Marawan Zayed reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

 Mohamed Salah helped Fiorentina book a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League, becoming the first ever Egyptian to reach the semis of the competition. After drawing 1-1 against Dynamo Kiev away from home, La Viola as they call them in Italy, needed to win by any score or at least avoid conceding to reach the semis which they did magnificently at home, 2-0.

Fiorentina could have scored at least four or five goals in the first 10 minutes as they started the game in the best way possible and ensured their opponents could not get out of even their box. Salah could have scored himself but the keeper saved his curling effort brilliantly.

The pressure paid off as a player from Dynamo Kiev was sent off in the 43rd minute and Mario Gomez, who missed at least three goals prior to a red card, made sure the tie was out of Dynamo Kiev’s reach a minute later when he scored from Joaquin’s excellent cross.

The goal was the least Fiorentina deserved after playing an extraordinary first half that saw them have 22 goal attempts. The goal, which arrived at just the right time, meant Fiorentina started the second half comfortably and kept missing chance after chance while the brilliant Salah kept doing what he does best every time he received the ball as he tormented defender after defender with his incredible pace and trickery.

One of Salah’s numerous attempts in the second half nearly witnessed a goal as his curling effort hit the hand of a defender before hitting the post. Salah, who was one of the best players on the pitch despite not scoring, was replaced in the 89th minute by Vargas who scored two minutes after coming on to seal Fiorentina’s place in the semi-finals against holders and favourites for the title Sevilla of Spain.

The other semi-final will see Napoli face Dnipro of the Ukraine. The Italian team led by Benitez will enter the game favourites to seal a place in the final given the massive experience of their coach and players such Higuain, Hamsik, Callejon and Mertens.

Fiorentina and Salah face a tantalising match-up with Sevilla over two legs with the first played in Spain which gives La Viola, who overcame huge teams such as Roma and Tottenham in previous rounds, something to cheer about.  The game promises to be a very thrilling and entertaining encounter as both teams play attractive attacking football and have great talent in their front lines.

Holders Sevilla are the favorites as they know how to win the competition given they won it three times in 2005 and 2006, in addition to last year’s edition.

Fiorentina, on the other hand, never won the tournament, having reached the final once in 1989, losing 3-1 on aggregate at the hands of Juventus when the final was played over two legs. Can Salah inspire La Viola and help them and himself reach the final of the competition? Certainly all Egyptian and La viola fans hope so.

Moving to local football, Carlos Garrido, the Spanish coach of powerhouse Ahly faces an uncertain future with the club after a couple of difficult months during which he has reportedly fallen out with some players and some members of the board.

The former Villareal coach who joined the Egyptian giants over a year ago started his Egyptian adventure brightly and managed to win two titles last season in the form of the Egyptian Super Cup and the CAF Confederation Cup, a championship no Egyptian team had won before. But all of a sudden a dip in form coupled with mixed results and internal issues with key players such as Emad Meteb have put the future of Garrido in doubt.

The latest issue was Ahly’s terrible performance against bottom of the table Damanhour where the defending champions managed to come from behind and score two very late goals in the 87th minute and 92nd minute to win the game 2-1. Damanhour, who only have nine points from 23 games in their debut season in the premiership, came very close to embarrassing Ahly and snatch all three points from the game.

The shameful performance, which came three days after another sub-par outing in the club’s 1-0 loss to Moroccan side Moghreb Tetouan in Morocco, saw many Egyptian pundits and fans call for the sacking of the Spanish coach who seems to have lost his way in the last few months.

Meteb, who is the vice-captain of the club after Hossam Ghali, was left out of the 18-man squad for two games in a row despite being in reasonably good form. The Egyptian striker went public in criticising the coach and his decision to omit him from the squad without any obvious reason.

Even though the club fined Meteb for his outburst, reports from inside the club indicate that board members in addition to club president Mahmoud Taher are also baffled with the decision to omit Meteb from two games in addition to limiting him to a short cameo against Damanhour. Meteb is one of the most experienced members of the squad and the club has not been happy with the way he is being treated even if he’s not at his very best, which happens to every player.

However, the biggest issue for the club regarding Garrido is the eight-point gap between Ahly and leaders and bitter downtown rival Zamalek and the near non-existence of a race for the title which was never the case in previous years. With 23 games played and 15 left, Ahly are third with 46 points while Zamalek are top of the table with 54 points and Enppi second with 60 points but from 24 games.

The current league table is not pleasing anyone inside the Ahly club and unconfirmed reports indicate the club already has taken the decision to sack the Spanish tactician in the coming days after losing the trust of his key players in addition to the poor results and standing in the league.

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