Egypt coach says Salah at same level as Ronaldo, Modric

Cairo: Egypt coach Javier Aguirre said on Monday that Egypt star Mohamed Salah is at the same level as Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, his fellow nominees for the FIFA’s The Best 2018 men’s player award.

The Mexican coach, who took the helm at the Egyptian national team following the 2018 FIFA World Cup, spoke in an interview with EFE in Cairo during the run-up to the award ceremony, to be held September 24 in London.

“I think that the three players are equal, none of them is above the other, but there can be only one winner. Hopefully, it’ll be Salah,” Aguirre, 59, said.

Although Aguirre stressed that the Liverpool forward “is still the same Mohamed Salah” who broke the Premier League scoring record with 32 goals in the 2017/2018 season, he warned that “it is not easy to repeat.”

“This is just the beginning. The scorers go through streaks, suddenly they score three goals in one match. Scorers like Salah, Ronaldo or (Lionel) Messi can be three or four games without a netting goal, and then they let go,” he explained.

Besides Salah, Aguirre said he appreciates the players in Egyptian league have “a very good technical level,” although he complained that the country’s hot weather “doesn’t help them keep the rhythm high for 90 minutes.”

He also said it was unfortunate that some Egypt players signed to European clubs “have no chance to play” with their teams, although he added that playing abroad helps them evolve.

On his triumphant debut as Egypt’s coach, defeating Niger 6-0 on September 8, Aguirre said it “turned out nicely” and that he intends to continue with the same approach.

“I will do my best to make Egypt play soccer well and give its people joy,” he asserted. “I am very happy with the start of the national team, that people have enjoyed seeing their team, and I hope we can continue that work.”

Aguirre said does not want to judge the campaign of his predecessor, Argentine coach Hector Cuper, who (with Salah’s help) led Egypt to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990, but was eliminated from the group stage.

“I don’t like comparisons. I saw the Egyptian team in the World Cup, they had bad luck,” he said.