Bob Bradley speaks out on Egypt, Mohamed Salah
Bradley was at the helm of the Egypt job between 2011 and 2013. He proceeded with the team in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in a perfect manner until facing Ghana in the qualifiers playoffs where the seven times AFCON champions were handed a heavy 6-1 thrashing in Accra, before getting a 2-1 win in the second leg in Cairo.
The tenure of Bradley have seen the break-through of Egypt star Mohamed Salah, Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny, Ahmed Hegazi and more.
“The assistant that I was able to get from Egypt was Diaa El-Sayed. Diaa had been the Under-20 coach when Salah, [Ahmed] Hegazi, Omar Gaber, my man [Mohamed] Elneny, when all those guys were there, they played in September of 2011 in Colombia with the Under-20s,” Bradley told Sports Illustrated.
“I got there in October, and Diaa, even now when you look at what’s happened with that group of players, Diaa deserves so much credit. He’s such a special guy. We had a game a month later in October. We still gave more of the veterans chances, but we were going and watching games. And Elneny and Salah played for Arab Contractors.”
“They were a young team, and they in moments looked like they could play football. But they looked like a talented Under-19 team playing in a men’s league. And you could see that Salah had something, but you didn’t fully understand the timing of when it was all going to come together.”
During his stint with Egypt, the 60-year-old American manager witnessed the most tragic event in Egyptian football, known as Portsaid massacre which caused the passing of 72 from Al Ahly fans in February 2012, and as a result the Egyptian Premier League was halted for a long period, causing a massive interruption to Bradley’s plans as he prepares for the World Cup qualifiers.
“As everybody knows, February 1 of 2012 was this massacre in Portsaid. And the league was shut down, and we had a World Cup qualifier in June. And we had to come up with ways to prepare a team. And so we had camps. We couldn’t play games in Egypt. We had to set up friendlies through match agents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Khartoum, Sudan, and you name it.”
“We were a traveling road show. When that happened, the key was we were able to start bringing in those young guys and see them up close.And from the first day when you got Salah in there, you realized how special he was. So explosive, so quick. Still raw, but wanted to learn, smart.”
“And immediately [Mohamed] Abou-Treika formed a connection with him where when Aboutreika had the ball, Salah had a certain understanding that he liked to come from the right side, from the outside in. And Treika had ways to find him with certain passes.”
Salah is currently grabbing the admiration of everyone in Europe and the world with his superb performances with Liverpool, but Chelsea spell was destined to fail at the beginning of his trip abroad.
“he was so hungry to get better. He wanted to work on his finishing. When you showed him things in training, the next day you’d see him doing it without even thinking about it. Salah is a special guy. I’m surprised that … he was at Chelsea, and they had veterans. But I thought that it would even happen there.”
“But look, for different reasons it didn’t. I’ve heard that guys like [Didier] Drogba and [Eden] Hazard, who saw him at Chelsea, all to this day say he didn’t get enough opportunities there. But José [Mourinho]’s not always one who’s given opportunities for young players, but he went to Fiorentina, he went to Roma, and now this time around at Liverpool, obviously, what a season.”
“When you think about not only being explosive and being a real threat, but the goals that he’s now scoring, the different kind of finishes, I’m so thrilled for him. Because like I said, he’s worked very hard at it, and there’s always been something there that you knew was just really different,” he added.
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