Friday saw Egypt face Uruguay in Group A of the World Cup, but all eyes were on a man who didn’t feature in the end.
Mohamed Salah scored 44 goals in a tremendous season for Liverpool, earning a host of individual awards. But a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final last month after a challenge from Sergio Ramos threatened to derail his World Cup ambitions with national side Egypt.
Initial worry gave way to widespread optimism that Salah would feature in the their opening fixture, with repeated statements to that effect from the Egypt camp over the past few weeks.
Salah, who turned 26 yesterday, was named on the bench for the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday, an understandable move with a lack of match fitness after missing all of the pre-tournament friendlies.
The forward never made it off the bench, however, raising questions as to the fitness of the English PFA ‘player of the year’.
After the defeat, Egypt manager Hector Cuper vaguely acknowledged the reality that Salah is the difference maker in his team.
“Mo Salah is an extremely important player for us, nobody can deny that, but you need to have a good team, and we have a good team”, Cuper stated.
“Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch today the outcome would have been different but we can’t know that.
Certainly he has contributed a great amount to the team and will contribute in future matches.”
He then reiterated that the player would be ‘fine’ for the next game, but not for the first time. Now the Egyptian FA have released a statement (via the BBC), claiming that Salah was fit all along.
“He was fit to play against Uruguay but the coach did not want to take the risk,” said the EFA.
If he is in any way fit, it’s imperative that he features heavily for the Pharaohs against Russia on Tuesday if they are to have any chance of progressing to the knockout rounds. Uruguay look on course to qualify, while the host nation routed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament.