Egypt holds its breath over injured Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah took part in training at the Akhmat Arena stadium in Grozny on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Egypt holds its breath over injured Mohamed Salah

  • Egyptian superstar is nursing an injured shoulder
  • 'There’s a good degree of progress,' said team director

Yekaterinburg, RUSSIA: Mohamed Salah is in a high-profile race to be fit for Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday and even opponents are hoping the Liverpool ace could yet play a role in Russia.
The striker and Egyptian superstar, who is nursing an injured shoulder, is crucial to the north African side’s hopes of making it out of a weak-looking Group A also featuring the hosts and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt play Uruguay — tipped by some to be dark horses — in Yekaterinburg in just the second game of the tournament, following Russia against Saudi Arabia in the opening match.
Salah, who turns 26 on the day of the game, gave 100 million frantic Egyptians a massive boost on Wednesday when he joined a squad training session at their Grozny base.
He had been sidelined since suffering a shoulder injury in Liverpool’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid on May 26, casting severe doubt on his World Cup participation.
He went through a range of warm-up exercises with his team-mates, but Egyptian team officials are giving little away.
“There’s a good degree of progress but no definitive decision on whether he takes part, as we are following his case day by day,” team director Ihab Lahita told reporters.
Egypt’s 62-year-old Argentine coach Hector Cuper will conduct a pre-match press conference on Thursday, but there are suggestions that he wants to see Salah train again before making any decision on whether the player is fit to face a Uruguay side boasting the twin attacking threat of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
The most likely outcome is that Salah, one of the outstanding players in the world this season as he helped propel Liverpool to the Champions League final, will be on the bench on Friday.
Salah’s World Cup dream was left on the brink when he exited the final in tears after Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos wrestled him to the ground.
Cuper has attempted to dismiss the notion that Egypt are a one-man side, but with 44 goals in all competitions this season for Liverpool, Salah’s badly timed injury has become a national obsession back home.
Salah is regarded as a contender for the Ballon d’Or for his spectacular debut season at Anfield, alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar of Brazil.
The tournament in Russia will be the poorer for Salah missing out and Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera has expressed hope that Salah will play against the South Americans.
“I like the best players to play, I train with the best and I want the best players to play,” said Muslera.
Egypt, a no-frills side who play on the counterattack under the wily Cuper, face hosts Russia on Tuesday and the Saudi Arabia on June 25 in their last group game.


Saudi Arabia out of Asian Cup after 1-0 defeat to Japan

Updated 57 min 14 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia out of Asian Cup after 1-0 defeat to Japan

  • Tomiyasu goal enough to give Japan place in the quarterfinals.
  • Green Falcons struggled to break down a determined Japan side.

LONDON: Takehiro Tomiyasu's lone strike sent Saudi Arabia crashing out of the Asian Cup as Japan beat the three-time champions 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals.
Tomiyasu's first-half header was enough to seal it for Japan as the last-16 game between two teams with seven titles between them failed to live up to its billing.
Japan, record four-time winners of the Asian Cup, march on to a quarter-final with Southeast Asian champions Vietnam despite not yet hitting top form at the tournament.
Saudi Arabia were in the ascendancy early on but it was Japan who snatched the advantage with a straightforward goal from a set piece on 20 minutes.
From a corner, Belgium-based defender Tomiyasu climbed above his marker and nodded firmly into the bottom corner for his first of the tournament.
The Saudis twice came close with headers as they strived for a way back, and Hatan Bahbri curled one just off-target as he went for the top corner.
Yoshinori Muto's shot was blocked on the hour-mark but most of the chances were falling to Saudi Arabia, who will rue some wasteful finishing.
Bahbri's shot from outside the box crept narrowly wide and Ali Al-Bulaihi powered a strong header over when the ball was knocked back into the area after a free-kick.
But despite a late flurry it remained another goalless outing for the Saudis, who haven't hit the net since scoring six goals in their first two group games.