Tentative Mohamed Salah almost 'certain' to play in Egypt opener against Uruguay

Hector Cuper said that star striker Mohamed Salah has recovered from his shoulder injury and will almost certainly play against Uruguay. (Reuters)
Updated 15 June 2018
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Tentative Mohamed Salah almost 'certain' to play in Egypt opener against Uruguay

  • Hector Cuper: “We still have to see how training goes today, but I can almost assure you 100 percent that Mohamed Salah will play, we are all very optimistic that he will be on the pitch.”
  • 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.

YEKATERINBURG: The talk was, of course, all about Mohamed Salah. Since the Liverpool forward injured his shoulder in the Champions League final 19 days ago, all of Egypt’s build-up has centered on whether the forward would be fit to start their opening World Cup match, against Uruguay on Friday. And, frankly, the answer remains unclear.

Hector Cuper, the Egypt manager, was upbeat on Thursday, but the word from the training camp was less definitive.

“Mohamed is doing very well, indeed,” Cuper said. “He has recovered very quickly. We’ve paid a lot of attention to him. He has had training sessions with us. We have to see how he recovers from today, but I can say almost 100 percent he will play, save for any unforeseen factors at the last moment.”

Salah took a full part in Egypt’s in-stadium training on Thursday, but it was notable that he was tentative, at best, in the windmill exercises. Where other players swung their arms above their heads, he rarely lifted his above shoulder height.

What that means, if anything, is open to interpretation: Salah must have known he was being watched and it could be he was gently teasing his observers. Certainly, there was no other sign of discomfort: His general attitude seemed relaxed.

It is also clear that he has given everything to be available to play on what will be his 26th birthday. 

“Salah did a training session yesterday,” said Cuper. “He does three training sessions per day. He does training with the doctors, by himself, personal training and very specific exercises. He has recovered from his injury, but he still trains a lot. He has to do a lot of physical and mental training. Why does he do this? Because that’s what he feels he needs to recover and he has shown great recovery so far.”

Is there a danger that the injury may make him tentative? “We’re trying to make him feel confident,” said Cuper. “Even the doctors are giving him the option whether he plays or not. I know Salah very well and he is not fearful. We know we always run a risk when we play a match. That’s something we cannot hide. In terms of him on the pitch, if he does decide to play, he will have full guarantees in terms of his physical condition. If it does turn out there is an issue, we’ll consider it and see if that can be resolved.” Which sounded rather less certain than some of his other statements.

What nobody doubts is how important Salah is to Egypt. He was joint top-scorer in African qualifying with five and scored two of Egypt’s five goals at last year’s Cup of Nations. “He could become the top goal-scorer,” said Cuper. “Why not? And one of the best payers. He has responded very well to the injury, and he has shown he has great character, personality, talent.”

Salah is the one celebrity player Egypt have, which is why a local journalist presented Cuper with a pair of felt boots to pass on to him as a birthday present, with an accompanying — and, given the temperature is in the mid-to-high teens, slightly weird — question about how he is coping with the cold.

That, clearly, is not the problem, but the shoulder may yet be. For all Cuper’s confidence, the sense is that it would be a risk to play him. But then it would also be a risk if
he did not.


Michel Platini released from custody after police probe into Qatar World Cup 2022 corruption

Updated 19 June 2019
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Michel Platini released from custody after police probe into Qatar World Cup 2022 corruption

  • French authorities haven’t announced any charges against Platini
  • The authorities also questioned a sport adviser from the previous French president’s administration

PARIS: Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.

Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.

“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”

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READ MORE: 

TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

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Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.

Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.

Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup

As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.

French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

They are looking into possible offences including private corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling.

The decision in December 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar surprised many given the lack of potential local audiences for the games, the extremely hot summer weather, and the poor performance of the country's national squad. It will be the first Arab state to host the competition.

Platini is one of France's most famous sportsmen and soccer stars. He led France to victory in the 1984 European Championship and played in two World Cup semi-finals.

(With Agencies)