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The player was consequently withdrawn from the African qualifiers against Kenya and Comoros and was seen wearing a protective boot on his left foot as he sat out a national team training session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


Adesanya inflicts first career defeat on Costa as UFC Fight Island returns to Abu Dhabi 


Updated 27 September 2020

Adesanya inflicts first career defeat on Costa as UFC Fight Island returns to Abu Dhabi 


  • UFC 253 kicked off a five-event series on Yas Island that includes three Fight Nights and concludes with UFC 254

DUBAI: Fight Island 2 kicked off in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of Sunday with undefeated New Zealander Israel Adesanya inflicting a first career loss on Paulo Costa of Brazil to claim the middleweight belt in the headlining clash of UFC 253.

The five event series — UFC 253, three Fight Nights and UFC 254 — comes just two months after Fight Island originally took place on Yas Island between July 12 and 26, included UFC 251 and three Fight Nights, and was the first international sporting event to take place following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Fight Island 2 will conclude with UFC 254’s highly anticipated meeting between unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje on October 24. 

In the build-up to the main event, Adesanya and Costa had been embroiled in a war of words that had led to, albeit in a benign manner, a shouting match at the W Hotel on Yas Island, where the fighters are staying, and then to a far more bitter confrontation following their weigh-in at Yas Forum. And it was Adesanya who would come out victorious in the octagon via a TKO after 3.59 of round 2. 

“I know this game, I don’t just play this on EA Sports, I play this for real, so when I do this, I know what I’m talking about,” the winner said. “I still have to watch it again, little bit sloppy, but I’m a dog and I do what I do.”

“I still don’t like him. I don’t know him personally, I don’t wish he dies or anything, he’s alive, I let him be alive,” Adesanya said of the opponent who had just suffered his first career defeat. “This is the game we play, this is violence and I told you guys that it was going to be violent . . . and it’s going to end fast and that’s what I did. I’m fresh, I can go next weekend, I can go anytime. I want to spend time with my family because it’s been a crazy year, so I want to go spend time with my people.”

Before leaving, Adesanya, whose career record stands at 20 wins, set his sights on his next target.

“(Jared) Cannonier, I want Cannonier next.”

In the co-main event, Jan Blachowicz of Poland stopped the American Dominik Reyes in the second round of their Light Heavyweight title clash, and could barely hide his delight afterwards.

“I still don’t believe it, but it’s here. It’s not a dream, right? It happened,” he said. “I have the legendary Polish power, I proved it one more time, amazing.”
 Blachowicz, now with a record of 27-8-0, said that he never stopped believing in himself despite those untimely defeats on his journey to the top of the division.

“Here I am, the champion,” he said. “Like I said before, even a pandemic can’t stop me right now. I feel really great in the fight. I saw that my left kick to his body, that he slowed down a little bit. I saw almost everything he did. In the second round when I broke his nose, I knew that the finish will be soon. This is something that we prepared in our gym with coaches. On paper, we knew everything, and now in real life also. We do a great job in the gym, I am the champion.”
 Prior to that, the American Brandon “Raw Dawg” Royval was able to stop Kai Kara-France, another unbeaten New Zealander, after only 48 seconds of the round 2 in their flyweight clash.

“I’m happy it worked out, that round had its ups and downs, which sucked a little bit, but we were pulling it off,” he said. “At the end of the first round, I know I got dropped twice, but I thought I won it. I thought, I’m winning this round for sure.”

In a women’s Bantamweight bout, Ketlen Vieira of Brazil beat Sijara Eubanks of the US via a unanimous decision. 

“The fight was a lot harder than I thought,” she said. “I didn’t train for Sijara, obviously my opponent got changed a couple of weeks before. It was a very tough fight, she doesn’t get rocked by anything. It’s really important for me, it proves that I am here for a reason, I didn’t just fall in here. I’m ready to fight anyone. I prove that I can do it and that I have a lot to evolve and I can fight the best in the world.”

The top card had kicked off with Canadian Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu, who is of Jamaican origin, overcoming Zubaira Tukhugov of Russia via a split decision.

“I’m my own worst critic, I wanted a finish, I promised a finish,” he said. “I finished his teammate years ago with a body shot, I really wanted to put him away with a body shot. I think he was smart, I think I threw something that made him feel funny and that’s why he started running. Me and my coach, we are going to go back to the dressing room and we’re going to work on catching these guys. I’m going to summon my inner Jamaican, my Usain Bolt, and I’m going to run these guys down and prevent them from running from me.”

Dawodu said he was “not thrilled” with the fight and that he will be working on how to finish off fighters who refuse to engage with him.
“I just need to stop these guys from running from me,” he said. “So maybe I gotta sit back and work on my counter striking because they just run and it’s frustrating because I’m a KO fighter if you look at my record, I just haven’t been able to catch as many people as I have lately, but I put the full blame on myself, I’m going to go back to my gym and I’m going to work on catching these guys and prevent them from running.”

In the prelims, Welterweight Jake Matthews beat UFC legend Diego Sanchez with a unanimous decision in an emotional meeting.

“That last bit of ground and pound, I was this close to apologizing to him,” Matthews said. “I’ve watched him since I was 11 years old. Between him and BJ Penn, they’re two of my all-time favorites. I didn’t let it get to my head before the fight, but now it’s going to sink in and it’s crazy being able to beat a guy like that.”

Also in the earlier action, Brad Riddell beat Alex da Silva via another unanimous decision in their lightweight bout; Ludovit Klein knocked out Shane Young in the first round; William Knight scored a unanimous victory over Aleksa Camur in their heavyweight clash; Juan Espino defeated Jeff Hughes via submission at 3:48 of round 1 of another heavyweight bout; and heavyweight Danilo Ibragimov had kicked off the night  by beating Khadis Ibragimov via a unanimous decision.

Fight Island 2 will now move onto three UFC Fight Nights, on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 before wrapping with UFC 254 on Oct. 24.