INJURED SALAH RULED OUT OF EGYPT’S NEXT AFCON QUALIFIER
▶ Star man scores directly from a corner in Cairo but a ‘light strain’ forces him to miss return fixture in Manzini
Mohamed Salah has been ruled out of Egypt’s next Africa Cup of Nations match on Tuesday after the Liverpool forward scored but was later injured in Friday’s 4-1 romp over eSwatini.
Salah went down holding his leg as the Group J encounter drew to a close in Cairo, resumed after receiving treatment, and was almost immediately withdrawn. “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.
Salah had netted only three times this term heading into the match as he struggles to replicate the 44 goals of 2017/18. He rediscovered his scoring touch against lowly ranked eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), curling a corner into the net on the stroke of half time with Egypt already ahead by three goals at the Al Salam Stadium.
Salah fluffed a chance to score 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 hosted Niger late 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.
Elsewhere in Friday’s qualifying matches, Jonathan Kodjia, 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.
An Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting goal earned Cameroon a 1-0 Group B win over Malawi in Yaounde, and Dutch manager Clarence Seedorf his first success in charge of the “Indomitable Lions”.
Defending champions Cameroon would be 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.
There also remains doubts as to whether Cameroon will be ready to host the 2019 edition, with the Confederation of African Football raising concerns on a recent trip to the country over its backlog of infrastructural work.
If Cameroon were to be stripped as hosts they would need to qualify outright. Seedorf’s squad top their group with seven points.
Group C pace-setters 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 while Algeria top Group D thanks to a 2-0 win over Benin in Blida.
New Gabon manager Daniel Cousin saw his team defeat South Sudan 3-0 in Libreville, Togo snatched a 1-1 draw with the Gambia in Lome and Cape Verde outplayed Tanzania 3-0 in Praia.
Salah fluffed a chance to score by missing from inside the box in the second half after combining with Elneny
Mohamed Salah looked to have rediscovered his scoring touch against eSwatini before he had to go off injured