Egypt names 'under-probe' Aguirre as new coach

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Javier Aguirre became the new coach of Egypt yesterday despite his involvement in a match-fixing investigation in Spain.
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Javier Aguirre became the new coach of Egypt yesterday despite his involvement in a match-fixing investigation in Spain.

Spanish prosecutors said in February that Aguirre was facing two years in prison if convicted in a case involving a total of 41 players and former club officials. He has denied any wrongdoing, but Japan fired him as its coach in 2015 for his ties to the investigation.

“Everything is cleared,” Aguirre said at a news conference in Cairo yesterday. “There is no way it (the investigation) will affect my work here.”

The case involves Spanish clubs Levante and Real Zaragoza in 2011. The prosecutors cited evidence Zaragoza paid 965,000 euros (US$1,122,225) to Levante players to lose a match to Zaragoza. Coached by Aguirre at the time, Zaragoza avoided relegation by beating Levante 2-1 in the season’s final round.

A lower court shelved the case but it was reopened this year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where the match was played.

“The case was closed and I don’t know why it was reopened,” Aguirre, a former Mexico player and coach, said.

Egyptian officials hope he leads the Pharoahs to a significant improvement after their dismal performance at the World Cup in Russia. Egypt lost all of its three group matches at its first World Cup in 28 years, under Argentine Hector Cuper, who was fired in late June.

“Like in Mexico, there are a lot of expectations and dreams here,” Aguirre said. “We want to be one of the top teams in the world and we have everything that would make our dreams come true.”

Egyptian Football Association chairman Hany Abo Rida said Aguirre had signed a four-year contract with an annual salary of US$1.4 million. He will receive a US$500,000 bonus if Egypt qualifies for the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.

“He has a respectable and impressive track record in Spain,” Abo Rida said of the 59-year-old Aguirre, who also coached Espanyol and Atletico Madrid.

Egypt’s first competitive match under Aguirre will be an African Nations Cup qualifier at home on September 7 against Niger.

Aguirre’s most recent job was with the United Arab Emirates’s al-Wahda from 2015-2017.

Meanwhile, Cuper has been named the new head coach of Uzbekistan, the country’s football association announced on Wednesday.

Cuper has been handed a contract through to the 2022 finals in Qatar as Uzbekistan attempts to secure a place at the tournament for the first time.

The 62-year-old will be unveiled in Tashkent on Monday, according to a post on the Uzbekistan Football Association’s official website and social media outlets.

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