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Briefs
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 22 - 03 - 2018


Salah on top
IT WAS a glorious night for Egypt's winger Mohamed Salah as he set a Liverpool record after scoring four goals for the Reds in a 5-0 Premier League win over Watford on Saturday to become Liverpool's most prolific player in a debut season, having taken his tally to 36 goals in all competitions.
He surpassed Spanish striker Fernando Torres, who netted 33 goals in his debut season with Liverpool in 2007-08. Salah also went four goals clear of Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who is out through injury, on top of the Premier League's scoring charts with 28 with seven games left.
Salah is also now the leading goalscorer in Europe's top five leagues — overtaking Barcelona's Lionel Messi with 34 goals and Kane with 35.
The 25-year-old is just one goal short of equalling Didier Drogba's record for the most goals by an African player in a Premier League season. The former Ivory Coast hitman netted 29 goals in 2009-10. Salah is also the first Liverpool player to score four goals in a Premier League game since Luis Suarez against Norwich in December 2013.
“I have to thank everyone of my teammates, without them I couldn't have reached these numbers,” Salah told BT Sport in a pitchside interview.
Liverpool have 63 points from 31 games, two more than Tottenham Hotspur who have 61 from 30. More importantly, they are now seven points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea in the tussle for the top four and Champions League qualification.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Salah has time on his side to succeed Messi and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, as he is 25 while both are now in their thirties, as the world's best player.
“I think Mo is on the way (to being the best in the world),” said Klopp. “I don't think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi. He is the one who is doing what he's doing for what feels like 20 years or so.”
Stunning ouster
ZAMALEK suffered a shock exit from the CAF Confederation Cup round of 32 after losing 4-3 on penalties to Ethiopia's Wolaitta Dicha in Cairo on Sunday following a 2-2 aggregate draw.
After losing 2-1 in Hawassa earlier this month, Zamalek triumphed with the same scoreline in regular time to force a penalty shootout that condemned them to a bitter exit at the first hurdle.
Playmaker Ahmed Madbouli gave the hosts the lead from the spot following a disputed penalty on the stroke of half-time before adding another goal just three minutes after the break.
A mistake from goalkeeper Ahmed Al-Shennawi, however, allowed the visitors to score through Abdel-Samad Ali in the 52nd minute to level the score.
In the penalties, Zamalek's Ayman Hefni struck the bar and midfielder Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz's effort was saved by Dicha to see Zamalek out.
Egyptian side Masri had better luck than Zamalek, proceeding through the CAF Confederation Cup round of 32 on the away goal rule following a goalless draw in the return leg with Tanzania's Simba at Port Said Stadium on Saturday.
Having drawn 2-2 away from home, a goalless draw was enough for Masri to make it to the next stage for the second season in a row.
In the African Champions League, Ahly of Egypt strolled into the group stage with an easy 3-1 victory against Gabon's C.F. Mounana on Saturday to complete an emphatic 7-1 aggregate win.
Leading 4-0 from the first leg, it did not take long for Ahly to assert control in Libreville, with winger Mido Gaber giving them an early lead.
Walid Azaro doubled their lead before David Massamba netted a consolation for Mounana on the stroke of halftime after a mistake from goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Shennawi. Walid Suleiiman completed the rout with a late strike as Ahly eased through.
Al-Said on hot coals
MORTADA Mansour, Zamalek Club's president, made headlines when he hinted earlier this week that his side would make a shock move to sign star midfielder Abdullah Al-Said whose deal with arch-rivals Ahly will expire at the end of the season, but stopped short of naming him.
The controversial lawyer described it as the “deal of the century” drawing mockery from Ahly's fans.
Ahly announced that on Tuesday Al-Said signed a two-year contract with the Red Devils to end reports linking him with a shock move to Zamalek, but Mansour revealed in a press conference the details of a new, high-profile signing, showing a photo of Al-Said with son Ahmed Mortada after the signing. Mansour said Al-Said had signed three copies of the contract and was finger printed, adding that the contract stipulates a $100 million release clause.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Al-Said was reportedly reluctant to extend his deal after Ahly had made it clear they could not afford to meet his financial demands.
But they eventually reached an agreement, although Ahly did not reveal how much Al-Said would earn over the next two seasons -- the duration of his new deal. The 32-year-old will now stay at the club until 2020, putting to bed reports linking him with a move to Zamalek.
“This was my desire from the very beginning. The delay was out of my hands but everything is sorted out now,” Al-Said said in a video message on Ahly's official Website.
But just a few hours after announcing his contract renewal, Ahly said early on Wednesday that Al-Said had been put on the market without disclosing further details.
“The football committee asked the marketing sector to start negotiations to sell Abdullah Al-Said or to send him out on loan amid the offers that reached Ahly from clubs outside Egypt,” Ahly's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz was quoted as saying by the club's official Website.
Al-Said joined the Red Devils from Ismaili in 2011. With Ahli he won four Egyptian league titles, two African Champions Leagues, a Confederation Cup and the Egyptian Cup.
Al-Said scored 67 goals and created 54 others in 227 appearances with Ahly in all competitions.


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