Even Mohamed Salah can’t stop Egypt from spiralling out of World Cup

Mohamed Salah struggled to hide his disappointment at Egypt's defeat to Russia. (AFP)
Updated 21 June 2018

Even Mohamed Salah can’t stop Egypt from spiralling out of World Cup

  • Liverpool star is now fit but game against Saudi Arabia will be a dead rubber
  • Question marks over future of coach Hector Cuper

ST PETERSBURG: Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted that Monday’s final Group A game in the 2018 World Cup against Saudi Arabia is almost certain to be a matter of regional pride and not much else.
The North Africans sank to a second consecutive defeat on Tuesday, losing 3-1 to hosts Russia in Saint Petersburg. Following a painful last-minute loss to Uruguay in the opening game, it leaves Egypt stuck on zero points and facing early elimination.
Now the focus is on the all-Arabian clash against their regional rivals in Volgograd.
“We still have a game to play against Saudi Arabia and we will give our all in that game but our chances (of going to the second round) are minimal,” Cuper said. “It is important we perform well in that game and get the right result.”
The Spaniard has faced questions from the Egyptian media as to whether he will still be in the hotseat after a disappointing time in Russia. He intends to see out the tournament.
“I hope to continue as coach but that is a decision that does not depend on me. If those responsible want to me leave then that is what I will do.”
Mistakes at crucial times in the two games have cost Egypt. After losing 1-0 to Uruguay, the Pharaohs were solid against Russia, who had defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 five days previously in Group A, in the first half.
Three goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half virtually ended Egypt’s World Cup.
Cuper was happy with the team’s defensive performance in the first half but was left to lament the first period after the restart.
“The game lasted 94 minutes and we had a very bad 15 minutes early in the second half and that is why we lost,” said the Argentine. “It wasn’t a lack of concentration but we did make mistakes. We lacked a little luck to get the ball into the net. I am happy with what we have done but you have to make the most of your goalscoring opportunities.”
Saudi Arabia will have to deal with a fully fit Mohamed Salah.
The Liverpool forward, who scored 44 goals in the 2017-18 season for Liverpool, scored Egypt’s only goal in his first appearance since sustaining an injury against Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League final in late May.
“Of course, we would have preferred if he had not been injured but it would have been especially good if he had been able to train with the team for the three weeks we had at the same intensity as the other players. We missed that."
Cuper said Salah is desperate to play as much as possible in the World Cup. “I was told by the medical staff that the player was good and felt good. It may have been different if he had been fit for the World Cup but we will never know.
“We have played well mostly, apart from short periods when we have made mistakes The players have given everything and I can’t complain about their effort and this has been a great experience for them. There is still a game to go however and that is now what we have to think about.”


Novak Djokovic and wife test negative for coronavirus

Updated 02 July 2020

Novak Djokovic and wife test negative for coronavirus

  • Top-ranked player tested positive for the virus after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia

Novak Djokovic says he and his wife have now tested negative for the coronavirus.
The top-ranked player tested positive for the virus after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia with zero social distancing amid the pandemic.
His media team says “Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena are negative for COVID-19. That was shown by the results of the PCR tests that both had in Belgrade.”
The statement says both had no symptoms and that they were in self-isolation in the Serbian capital since testing positive 10 days ago.
Djokovic was the fourth player to come down with the virus after participating in matches held in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia. The others were three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.