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.


Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

Updated 8 min 21 sec ago
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Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

  • The Riyadh Formula E race will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, with all eyes on the Ad Diriyah track
  • Formula E supremo Alejandro Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport

RIYADH: With motor racing star Felipe Massa set to make his Formula E debut, the inaugural Saudi Arabia E-Prix in Riyadh was always likely to be a stunning spectacle of speed.

But the sport’s supremo Alejandro Agag has promised race fans yet more big surprises before the green light signals go at the Ad Diriyah street circuit on Dec.15, claiming the Kingdom is “the home of Formula E.”

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi Arabian capital, Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport and predicted the country would have a big influence on its future.

“This is now the home of formula E,” Agag said.

“Thanks to the vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed, for the first time in Saudi Arabia these cars will be here, it’s the motorsport of the future.”

While he refused to reveal any of the big announcements surrounding the race he did praise the forward thinking of a country with the largest oil exports in the world going full-throttle in embracing electric cars.

That forward thinking has been matched away from the track, with Agag acknowledging the Vision 2030 reforms made by Kingdom’s rulers over the past two years.

“We could not race in Saudi Arabia if women could not drive. I think that Saudi Arabia is taking the right steps, and that is what attracted us,” the Spaniard said.

Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, so all eyes will be on the Ad Diriyah track. Located in the birthplace of the Kingdom the circuit, revealed last month, has excited the drivers, Agag revealed.

The drivers cannot wait for the season to start in Riyadh, they are looking forward to racing around the new track, he added.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah gate development, is certain the Middle East’s newest track will not disappoint the racers and all the petrolheads set to descend on the capital.

“The preparations are fabulous,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Everybody has to come out and see it, it will be so much fun.”

Touching on plans for the wider development, to be announced in the coming weeks, he added: “It’s going to be the jewel of the Kingdom as it already is. There is a very bold masterplan, but when you see what is planned, Ad Diriyah as it should be is going to be the great gathering place for people all around the world. It is certainly the soul of the Saudi nation.”