Egypt told they cannot rely on Mohamed Salah in Russia

Mohamed Salah is fighting a battle to be fit in time for the World Cup, in Russia. (Reuters)
Updated 06 June 2018
0

Egypt told they cannot rely on Mohamed Salah in Russia

  • Cuper confident main man Salah will be fit to play at the tournament
  • The coach, however, does not want The Pharaohs to assume Salah is the be-all and end-all of the side's campaign.

Egypt have been told they cannot rely on Mohamed Salah to guide the Pharaohs to the knockout stages of the World Cup. That is the message from the side’s coach Hector Cuper, who revealed he was optimistic the side’s star will play a part in Russia.
Since he injured his shoulder during Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, all the talk has centered on whether Salah would be fit enough to play in Egypt’s first World Cup since 1990. But for Cuper such talk gets in the way of the real issue; that the side should not depend on Salah for 
glory, regardless of the 25-year-old’s fitness.
“We hope we won’t be affected, we try to be the same team, we can’t be dependent on one player,” Cuper said. “He’s important but if he’s not fit in time we will be ready with another player.
“This is football, these things can happen to any player. We could need to substitute him, but we hope that won’t be the case.”
Salah was included in Egypt’s final 23-man squad, with the team’s medical staff suggesting it will be touch and go for the player to be ready in time for their Group A game against Uruguay in Ekaterinburg on June 15.
“Salah is in a stage of recovery not just for treatment on his shoulder,” Cuper added. “We need to improve his demeanour and his fitness level because the injury has prevented him from training as a normal player.
“But we have very good news from our doctor, we hope he will be with us before Uruguay. We are optimists and we are waiting for him.”
The idea of not being dependant on one player, especially one who is a big fitness doubt, is obviously no bad idea. However, stats illustrate that when it comes to Egypt and Salah, that may be much harder to put in to practice than say.
During qualification the national hero had a hand in all seven of the Pharaohs’ goals — scoring five and setting up the other two. In Egypt the hero worship stems as much from his international displays — 
especially his crucial brace against the Congo which secured qualification to Russia — as from his 
sensational performances for 
Liverpool last season.
Salah, who netted 44 goals in an incredible first season for the Reds after joining from AS Roma, was voted Player of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association last month, becoming the first African to win the prestigious award. That gong came on the back of a host of other awards, including the PFA Player of the Year and African Player of the Year.


Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

Updated 17 February 2019
0

Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

  • Defeat leaves Real in third, nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
  • Girona had not won in the league since November.

LONDON: Santiago Solari insisted Real Madrid could still win the La Liga title despite a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.
The capital club were coming off a five-match winning streak, but were not able to get past their relegation-threatened rivals at the Bernabeu, conceding twice in the second half after taking a 1-0 half-time lead.
Girona had not won in 13 matches in all competitions and were coming off six straight losses. The Catalan club had not won in the league since November and had entered the weekend one point from the relegation zone. So to say this was a shock would be understating the case, Real were on the up, and this was supposed to be an easy win to aid their slim title hopes and add to the momentum of their good 2019 form.
But Solari — clearly a “glass half full” man — claimed Real’s title charge was far from over. Asked if the title was lost, the Argentine, who took over the asked Julen Lopetegui in October, said: “Not at all, not at all, next week there is another match, our rivals, too. All the matches are difficult, as Girona have shown today, we have to keep winning to try to cut the gap.
“This is football and there is always a rival, in this case Girona, who played well.
“In the second half there was a lot of energy. Girona were forceful when they attacked and we lacked clarity. The fatigue is not only physical, it is mental, concentration. We come from a major bustle, many games with good results, and that may have happened to us at the energy level in the second half. It’s likely.”
The surprise defeat dropped Madrid to third place and left them nine points behind Barcelona, who edged Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday with a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi. The result at the Nou Camp ended a three-game winless run for the Girona neighbors in all competitions.
Madrid had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-1 draw at Barca in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They had cut Barcelona’s lead from 10 points to six in recent rounds after seeing their arch-rivals go through a slump.
Solari made some changes to the starting lineup, leaving Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale on the bench after they started midweek in the 2-1 win at Ajax in the Champions League second round clash.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a firm header from near the penalty spot in the 25th minute after a cross by Toni Kroos, and Girona equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 65th after a handball by Sergio Ramos inside the area.
Girona had a golden chance to equalize about five minutes before the penalty, when Aleix Garcia’s close-range shot went over the crossbar. The visitors moved in front with a 75th-minute header by Portu after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois initially saved a shot by Anthony Lozano.
Portu had hit the post a few minutes earlier with a booming shot from inside the area.
Solari put on Vinicius Junior and Bale in the second half, but they were unable to save Real. Courtois made it to the area in a last-gasp attempt, but could not get enough on his header, sending the ball just wide of the post.
As if to emphasize the dire day, Ramos was sent off in 90th minute after receiving a second yellow card.