Newly-signed Egypt manager Javier Aguirre has hired a bevy of Spaniards to help navigate the Pharaohs’ next four years.
Aside from top assistant Hany Ramzy, the legendary Pharaohs defender who played at the 1990 World Cup and won the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the list of coaches helping Egypt’s Mexican tactician includes four from Spain.
The contingent is mostly young and inexperienced.
Most famous among them is undoubtedly Michel Salgado, the ex-Real Madrid right-back who starred in the 2000s, winning four La Liga crowns and two UEFA Champions League titles with the Galácticos.
But for all of Salgado’s impressive exploits he is not the most intriguing name on the list, in my opinion, as this is his first-ever coaching job, club or international.
The 42-year-old will inevitably have useful knowledge to pass onto the team, having excelled at the highest level as a player, but he’ll likely be doing more learning than teaching in Egypt.
The most promising addition, for my money, is instead Tito García Sanjuán, a former manager in his home country and former futsal champion as a player.
Sanjuán is best known for having guided fourth division side Formentera to the Copa del Rey round of 32, before making an even more unlikely run to the round of 16 the following season after promotion to the third division.
The feat, dubbed ‘miraculous’ by local press, included a win over La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao along the way.
Sanjuán’s futsal background adds an interesting dimension as well, given the need for exceptionally precise passing and decision-making in closed quarters. The top echelon of futsal is tiki-taka football on steroids.
This, coupled with the Spanish football philosophy et al., could bode well for an Egyptian side that — while looking to preserve defensive strides made under former manager Héctor Cúper — would like to get back to the possession-oriented, short passing game it was once known for.
Pol Lorente, meanwhile, is a young fitness coach that takes over as Egypt’s new physical trainer. His most recent job was with Spanish side CD Toledo.
The club was effusive in its praise for the departing Lorente, saying, “he gave his all and will continue to give his all for his home team.”
“We are proud to see one of our own at the international level,” they added.
Xavier Gurri, who plied his trade at youth and assistant levels from Finland to the Middle East — including stints with FC Honka and Al Wahda — rounds out the group.
Aguirre and his new right-hand men will get their first test on Saturday, when Egypt hosts Niger in a 2019 AFCON qualifier.