Salah un­cer­tainty over­shad­ows Suarez’ bid for redemp­tion

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

MOSCOW: Un­cer­tainty over whether Mo­hamed Salah has re­cov­ered from his shoul­der in­jury and will play for Egypt in their World Cup opener against Uruguay in Yeka­ter­in­burg on Fri­day is likely to con­tinue un­til just hours be­fore kick off.

Egypt’s cru­cial per­former has been bat­tling against time to be fit for the Group A en­counter since hurt­ing lig­a­ments in an awk­ward fall in the early stages of last month’s Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

The spec­u­la­tion has taken the spot­light away from the re­turn to the World Cup arena of Uruguay’s own tal­is­man, Luis Suarez, whose two pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances at the fi nals have en­sured him a le­gacy of folly.

“I want there to be the pos­si­bil­ity of this be­ing my World Cup, af­ter hav­ing left in the way I did in 2014,” he said in a re­cent ra­dio in­ter­view.

Now 31, and Uruguay’s lead­ing goal scorer, Suarez was the cat­a­lyst for his coun­try’s un­likely march to the semi-fi nals in 2010.

How­ever, he earned no­to­ri­ety in their con­tro­ver­sial quar­ter­fi­nal vic­tory, when he han­dled the ball on the goal line to deny op­po­nents Ghana a place in the last four in­stead.

Suarez was hai led a self­sac­ri­fic­ing hero back home for the cal­cu­lated de­ci­sion, for which he was sent off and sus­pended, but

I want there to be the pos­si­bil­ity of this be­ing my World Cup, af­ter hav­ing left in the way I did in 2014. Luis Suarez, Uruguay striker

de­rided ev­ery­where else for an act of cal­lous gamesmanship.

In Brazil four years ago, he bit Ital­ian de­fender Gior­gio Chiellini in the clos­ing stage of Uruguay’s last group game and was sub­se­quently slapped with a record nine- match ban from com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tion­als.

But Suarez has con­tin­ued to be key for his coun­try and is back with a chance to redeem him­self in a strong Uruguay side, still with the core of the squad that fin­ished fourth in South Africa eight years ago.

Uruguay fin­ished sec­ond in the South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing and are con­sid­ered favourites to top Group A, de­spite the pres­ence of hosts Rus­sia.

Egypt re­turn to the World Cup for the first time since 1990, hav­ing fi nally over­come a suc­ces­sion of qual­i­fy­ing fail­ures de­spite strong performances in the African Na­tions Cup.

Coach Hec­tor Cu­per could choose to play Es­sam El Hadary, who will set the record for the old­est player to fea­ture at a World Cup if he plays on Fri­day.

The veteran goal­keeper will be 45 years, four months and 29 days old, eas­ily beat­ing the mark set by 43-year-old Colom­bian goal­keeper Faryd Mon­dragon at the last fi­nals in Brazil. — Reuters

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez takes part in a train­ing ses­sion at the Sport Cen­tre Borsky, in Nizhny Nov­gorod. — AFP photo

File photo shows Italy’s Gior­gio Chiellini (leftL) show­ing an ap­par­ent bitemark and Suarez (right) hold­ing his teeth af­ter the in­ci­dent dur­ing the Group D match be­tween Italy and Uruguay at the Du­nas Arena in Natal dur­ing the 2014 FIFA World Cup on...

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