Salah scores di­rect from corner, In­jures groin in Egypt romp

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Liver­pool star Mo­hamed Salah scored di­rect from a corner but was later in­jured as Egypt romped to a 4-1 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fy­ing win over eSwa­tini on Fri­day night. The striker went down hold­ing his leg as the Group J match drew to a close in Cairo, re­sumed af­ter re­ceiv­ing treat­ment, and was al­most im­me­di­ately with­drawn.

Yes­ter­day, Salah was ruled out of Egypt’s qual­i­fier away to eSwa­tini on Tues­day af­ter suf­fer­ing a groin in­jury. Salah went off af­ter be­ing in­jured late in the game, leav­ing his side down to 10 men as they had al­ready used their al­lot­ted three sub­sti­tutes.

“Coach Javier Aguirre has de­cided to al­low Salah to re­turn to Liver­pool to give him ex­tra rest, as med­i­cal scans re­vealed that it would be dif­fi­cult to get him fit for Tues­day’s match,” said an Egyp­tian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion state­ment yes­ter­day.

The state­ment did not in­di­cate how long Salah might be out, but as­sis­tant coach Hany Ramzy said af­ter Fri­day’s game that the in­jury did not ap­pear se­ri­ous. Egypt could en­sure qual­i­fi­ca­tion for a record 24th Na­tions Cup fi­nals ap­pear­ance if they win on Tues­day in the south­ern African king­dom for­merly known as Swazi­land.

Af­ter scor­ing 44 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions dur­ing his first sea­son at An­field, the striker has net­ted only three this term, with just one since Au­gust. Salah net­ted twice and missed two penal­ties when record seven-time African cham­pi­ons Egypt ham­mered Niger 6-0 last month in an­other qual­i­fier.

With eSwa­tini (for­merly Swazi­land) ranked even lower than Niger, there were ex­pec­ta­tions that Salah could get back on the goal trail at the Al Salam Sta­dium. He blasted a shot wide with Egypt three goals ahead be­fore curl­ing a corner into the net on the stroke of half-time.

Salah fluffed a chance to net again by miss­ing from in­side the box dur­ing the sec­ond half af­ter com­bin­ing with Arse­nal mid­fielder Mo­hamed El­neny. Cap­tain Ahmed El­mo­hamady, Amr Warda and Mah­moud Has­san also scored for Egypt and Si­bonginkosi Gamedze snatched a late eSwa­tini goal. Tu­nisia, who were play­ing Niger last night, and Egypt have six points each in a mini-league both seem cer­tain to qual­ify from for the 2019 Cup of Na­tions in Cameroon.

Jonathan Kod­jia, Manch­ester United de­fender Eric Bailly, Che­ick Douk­oure and Maxwel Cor­net scored for the Ivory Coast as they crushed the Cen­tral African Repub­lic 4-0 in Bouake. In the other Group H match, Guinea de­feated Rwanda 2-0 in Con­akry through goals from Fran­cois Ka­mano and Ibrahima Cisse to stay three points ahead of the Ivo­rians. An­gola ended the per­fect, two-vic­tory Group I record of Mau­ri­ta­nia by re­cov­er­ing from con­ced­ing a third-minute goal to tri­umph 4-1 in Luanda. Cap­tain Ma­teus da Costa turned the tide with goals af­ter 12 and 16 min­utes, lev­el­ling from a penalty be­fore vol­ley­ing his team into the lead. An­gola and Mau­ri­ta­nia have six points and Burk­ina Faso can join them if they win at home to bot­tom team Botswana.

An Eric Maxim Choupo-Mot­ing goal earned Cameroon a laboured 1-0 Group B win over Malawi in Yaounde, and Dutch coach Clarence See­dorf his first suc­cess as ‘In­domitable Li­ons’ coach. De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Cameroon are guar­an­teed a place among the 24 fi­nal­ists next year as hosts, but opted to par­tic­i­pate in the mini-league phase to gain com­pet­i­tive match prac­tice.

They top the group with seven points, four more than Morocco, who should nar­row the gap by de­feat­ing the Co­moros in Casablanca. Group C pace­set­ters Mali were held 0-0 by sec­ond-place Bu­rundi in Ba­mako af­ter cap­tain Ab­doulaye Di­aby missed a penalty in the last minute of reg­u­lar time.

(Reuters)

Egypt’s Mo­hamed Salah (cen­tre) in ac­tion against eSwa­tini dur­ing the African Na­tions Cup qual­i­fier at AlSalam Sta­dium in Cairo on Fri­day night.

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