It is better for injured Salah to miss a few games than jeopardize career

Liverpool‘s Mohamed Salah scores a goal against Manchester City. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

It is better for injured Salah to miss a few games than jeopardize career

  • Klopp and Liverpool fans desperately want to successfully defend their Championship League title

CAIRO: A date for Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah’s return to action remains unclear with an ankle injury rumored to be more serious than at first thought.

The 27-year-old Egyptian star has been ruled out of his country’s upcoming international games and is a doubt for the Reds next Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Nov. 23.

Salah originally suffered the injury in league leaders Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Leicester City on Oct. 5, hobbling off the pitch at Anfield after coming under a second-half challenge from Foxes midfielder Hamza Choudhury.

The injury seemingly got worse during his side’s 3-1 home win over rivals Manchester City following a tackle by Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.

The player was consequently withdrawn from the African qualifiers against Kenya and Comoros and was seen wearing a protective boot on his left foot as he sat out a national team training session in Cairo.

There has been speculation that the No. 11 could be out for up to four weeks, which if true would mean Salah might be unavailable for Liverpool’s next six games, including the final two group fixtures in the Champions League.

That would not be good news for Liverpool who will be eager for him to play against Crystal Palace. In the bigger scheme of things, the club is hoping to ensure he stays fit enough to maintain his key role in Jurgen Klopp’s attack.

Being one of the world’s best players, Salah is an essential cog for club and country. The only Premier League game he has sat out for Liverpool this season, away to Manchester United, is the only match the Reds have failed to win.

On Thursday, when Egypt surprisingly drew 1-1 with Kenya at home, the Pharaohs seemed affected by the absence of the influential Salah, falling short against a team 108th in FIFA rankings, 60 places behind Egypt.

The obvious conclusion is that when Salah is playing and is fit, Liverpool and Egypt’s chances of winning games and championships are markedly increased. 

When he is not on the pitch, the odds of being triumphant noticeably decrease.

Football is a rough, physical contact sport. Sprains and strains are part of the game. 

But pain relief sprays do not always fix the problem. 

While Salah will be told to keep his ankle elevated and stay off it whenever possible, these instructions may not be the complete panacea.

Rest is usually the best medicine for injuries. However, in international cut-throat football, being out of action for long stretches is not an option.

Klopp and Liverpool fans desperately want to successfully defend their Champions League title. 

They would also relish a Premier League crown, especially after losing out by a one-point whisker to Manchester City last season.

The title is this season within Liverpool’s grasp with them currently topping the table on 34 points after 12 games, eight ahead of Leicester City and Chelsea, and with a nine-point gap on Manchester City. It is almost 30 years since Liverpool last won the league. 

If Salah does miss half-a-dozen games, it would indicate his injury is worse than originally thought. 

Apart from the infamous tackle with Spanish ace Sergio Ramos that left his shoulder with sprained ligaments when he hit the ground, and a collision with Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka that resulted in concussion, Salah is not a regular face in the injury room.

He has only sat out one match through injury during two-and-a-half years playing at Anfield and didn’t miss a game for the Reds in last season’s Premier League campaign, only being used as a substitute once.

It remains to be seen whether Salah will be fit for the trip to Selhurst Park. Klopp clearly has options to rotate if his Egyptian star is unavailable. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi have both filled roles in the attack this season, while Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri is expected back from injury after the international break.

But Salah is a hard act for anyone to follow. The forward has nine goals in 17 appearances in all competitions for the Reds this term. However, common sense dictates that if Salah is not completely fit and Klopp has alternatives, then it would be wise not to play him. Playing with an injury produces short-term gain but could lead to long-term pain.

At least Liverpool are not hiding Salah’s injury, as they apparently did with Andy Robertson, the full-back whose ankle injury kept him out of the Scotland squad amid a news blackout on his condition.

Salah’s injury is not a secret; however, it is the extent of the injury which is creating concerns. Injuries that do not heal properly can end careers.

It is understood Salah has been given the chance to train away from Liverpool’s Melwood training ground as he continues his rehabilitation, and the club will grant him an extended period of time off over the international break. 

The club is limiting his involvement in training and providing regular treatment.

Up to now Liverpool have been playing it safe and not risking their prized possession. 

But the temptation to rush Salah back before he is fully fit is surely strong. In that case, the club should ask itself how many players, footballers and otherwise, have had their time on fields and courts come to a premature end due to injury?

The Premier League — like life — is full of hard knocks. 

But there’s a difference between injuries that are treatable and those that are career threatening.

It is best for all concerned that Salah forfeits some football now rather than stop playing forever.


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”