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

The National - News - - SPORT FOOTBALL - STEVE LUCKINGS

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

Reuters

Mo­hamed Salah looked to have re­dis­cov­ered his scor­ing touch against eSwa­tini be­fore he had to go off in­jured

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