One former Arabian Gulf League manager is believed to be the frontrunner to replace Hector Cuper as Egypt coach, while another who led his team to the final of the World Cup is believed to have been discarded as an option.
Former Al Wahda coach Javier Aguirre is believed to be the Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) first choice to replace experienced Argentine Cuper, a former Valencia and Inter Milan head coach, who led the Pharaohs for three years, stepping down after this summer’s World Cup.
It was Egypt’s first finals appearance since 1990 but Liverpool livewire Mohamed Salah could not inspire his side to glory as they lost all three matches against Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia to exit at the group stage.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was also believed to be in the running, but the EFA said a brief pursuit was quickly called off over money.
Mexican Aguirre, 59, took his nation to the second round at the 2010 World Cup and led them to a CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph in 2009.
He also managed Japan from 2014-15 and was in charge of Atletico Madrid from 2006-09.
His most recent appointment was with the Clarets in the UAE from 2015-17, winning the 2015/16 Arabian Gulf Cup and the 2017 President’s Cup.
“Aguirre is ready to come to Egypt to negotiate with the federation,” federation member, Magdi Abdel-Ghani, told Filgoal.com.
“However, we are still in negotiations with three other candidates, Vahid Halilhodzic, Jorge Luis Pinto and Quique Sanchez Flores.
“The four candidates are coming from different football cultures but each of them has his unique experience.
As ex-Wahda coach Aguirre heads the EFA’s shortlist, one man who doesn’t appear to be in the running to replace Cuper is Croatia coach Dalic – who was in charge of AGL side Al Ain from 2014 to 2017.
The EFA dismissed reports linking the vacant national team head coach position to Dalic as unrealistic.
Dalic heroically led Croatia to the final in Russia only to be denied the title by a 4-2 defeat at the hands of France in Moscow. As well as the results, Dalic and his team won plaudits for their style of play.
Reports in Cairo and Croatia have suggested the EFA were preparing a move for the 51-year-old, who is yet to commit his future to the Vatreni, the post he only took in October last year, nine months after being sacked by the Boss.
“Of course we would be interested in Dalic if there was a chance,” an EFA official told Arab News.
“Everyone saw the job he did at the World Cup and Croatia were the opposite of Egypt, they played with adventure, skill and spirit. However, it was never a realistic option for us.
“Cuper’s salary was already very high but it would be nothing compared to what we would need in order to attract Dalic. It was never going to happen. Even if we could afford him, he is now in demand and if he decides to look for a new job then he will get plenty of offers from Europe.”
Cuper was reportedly the highest paid national team coach in Africa before his departure, receiving an annual sum of around €1.5 million. According to Croatian media, should Dalic decide to leave his post, he will be looking for a salary well in excess of that.
“Like it or not, I am the second best coach in the world,” Dalic told Croatian newspaper Vecernji list in an interview earlier this week.
“And this figure of $5 million per year for the second coach of the world is too small.”
Dalic may be off the table but the EFA, with qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations continuing in September, has confirmed they are looking for a foreign coach.
Halilhodzic, Aguirre’s successor with Japan in 2015, has been heavily linked with a return to Algeria, a team he led to the second round of the 2014 World Cup.
He qualified the Samurai Blue for the 2018 tournament, only to be fired two months before it kicked off after poor results and reports of player unrest.
Also in the mix is Flores, a former Atletico Madrid and Watford coach.
Pinto has plenty of experience, with spells in charge of Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras, but has not coached in the Middle East.
As for Cuper, the 62-year-old is rumoured to be close to being announced as new coach of Uzbekistan as the Central Asians prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE in January.
The Stuttgart right-back struck from outside the area as France levelled the scores at 2-2 in a compelling last-16 clash during this summer’s showpiece event in Russia.
Les Bleus eventually won the game 4-3 and went on to lift the trophy with further victories over Uruguay, Belgium and Croatia.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 25, 2018
You know you’ve done something right if you’re being mentioned in the same breath as Pele. Then again, Kylian Mbappe has gotten used to lofty comparisons over the last two years – because his explosive talent has earned them.
No one has lit up a World Cup like this at this young an age since the great Brazilian. It was fitting that, just like Pele in 1958, Mbappe’s tournament ended with the Jules Rimet held aloft in his hands following a goal in the final.
The Frenchman, who is being linked with Real Madrid, leaves a trail of established stars in his wake to top our World Cup forward rankings – here’s a look at who else made our top five.
1. Kylian Mbappe, France
What a stunning two years it has been for the 19-year-old from Paris. An instant rise to stardom while leading Monaco to a surprise Champions League semi-final, a big-money move to France’s most powerful club, and now a starring role in a World Cup triumph.
Mbappe joined elite company after becoming the only teenager other than Pele to score in a World Cup final. By then, he was already the tournament’s brightest star. The best young player honour was well-deserved.
2. Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
Cavani has already been thought of as one of the world’s best strikers, but he established himself among the elite during this World Cup. He outplayed fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez, undoubtedly the bigger star.
Who knows how different this tournament would have been had Cavani not injured himself in the very game he shone brightest, after scoring twice in Uruguay’s Round-of-16 win over Portugal. France would certainly have had a more difficult quarter-final.
3. Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
Only five players have scored in the final of both the World Cup and Champions League. It’s Mandzukic’s misfortune that for him, both goals have come in losing efforts. Even more so that Mandzukic also scored an own goal in Croatia’s loss to France.
But Mandzukic has long since earned his reputation as one of the world’s most bruising centre-forwards, and he was at his best during this tournament, including scoring a memorable extra-time winner against England in the semi-final.
4. Antoine Griezmann, France
It was a strange tournament for Griezmann. There was never a sense that a player who’s always been considered among the select group right below Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi was truly at his sparkling best during the World Cup.
But although his four goals came through three penalties and one goalkeeping error, his presence as France’s chief creative force in attack was vital to Les Bleus’ ultimate triumph. His contribution was duly recognised as he was named the third-best player at the tournament behind Luka Modric and Eden Hazard.
5. Romelu Lukaku, Belgium
Lukaku’s tournament ended in disappointment after a quiet display in Belgium’s semi-final loss to France was followed by a similarly ineffective performance in the third-place game against England, when the World Cup Golden Boot was there for the taking. Before that, however, the Manchester United striker showed just how much he’s grown as a player.
He’s always had the work ethic of a player determined to reach the very top, but what was truly impressive about Lukaku in Russia was his emergence as a leader. Rallying the troops, coaxing every ounce of effort out of his teammates – this was a side of Lukaku nobody had seen. And he also scored four goals.