Salah will play against Russia, says Egypt coach Cuper
Mohamed Salah was kept on the bench in Egypt’s 1-0 opening World Cup defeat against Uruguay on Friday because the team did not want to risk further injury to the Liverpool star.
One of the biggest cheers came after 30 minutes when the stadium screens showed Salah happily chatting away on the bench but that is where the birthday boy — who turned 26 on Friday — remained.
Salah injured his shoulder three weeks ago in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
On the eve of the Uruguay match in Yekaterinburg, which the South Americans won 1-0, Egypt coach Hector Cuper said Salah was fit, raising the Pharoahs’ hopes that he would start the Group A clash.
Cuper said after the match that he expects Salah to feature against hosts Russia at Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday. On the evidence of the first match, the Pharaohs badly need him.
“He’s certainly important, nobody can deny that, but you need a good team too — and we are a good team,” said Cuper.
“If Mo had been on the pitch it may have been different but we can’t know that.”
“He did not play today because we wanted to avoid risk or danger but I think that he will be fine for the next match,” said the coach.
“Yesterday we were quite certain that he would play. At the end of training he was examined in depth and there was some doubt if he fell or was hit by another player.
“We thought perhaps he might get another injury and we want to avoid that so we decided not to take that risk.
“We want him on top form for Saudi Arabia and Russia.”
The north Africans, contesting their first World Cup since 1990, were for the main part fairly comfortable in defence and Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny was a constant presence at the base of Egypt’s midfield.
Luis Suarez, who had a frustrating afternoon, forced goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy into a decent stop straight after half-time, the Barcelona striker slamming his boot into an advertising board in anger.
He thumped the turf on 73 minutes when goalkepeer Mohamed Elshenawy smothered at his feet, and seven minutes from the end the stopper was at it again, palming Edinson Cavani’s drive over.
Cavani then rattled a post with a free-kick as Egypt held on with increasing desperation, before defender Jose Gimenez’s dramatic late headed strike.