Salah ready to score

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE -

YEKA­TER­IN­BURG, Russia: Egypt for­ward Mohamed Salah has re­cov­ered from a shoul­der in­jury and is al­most 100 per­cent cer­tain to play in their World Cup opener against Uruguay, coach Hec­tor Cu­per said yes­ter­day, end­ing weeks of sus­pense about the fit­ness of his most dan­ger­ous striker.

Cu­per went fur­ther by pre­dict­ing on the eve of the match that Salah could emerge as one of the tour­na­ment’s most pro­lific goalscor­ers.

“Mo is do­ing very well in­deed.

“He’s re­cov­ered very, very quickly; we’ve paid a lot of attention to him,” the veteran coach told a news con­fer­ence be­fore the squad’s last train­ing ses­sion ahead of to­day’s match.

“I can al­most as­sure you 100 per­cent that he will play, save un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances at the very last minute.”

Salah, who scored 44 goals for Liver­pool last sea­son, in­jured shoul­der lig­a­ments in the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal de­feat by Real Madrid on May 26 and has not played since, keep­ing fans in sus­pense be­fore Egypt’s first World Cup fi­nals in 28 years.

Cu­per shrugged off any doubts over whether Salah, who turns 26 on the day of the match, would feel suf­fi­ciently con­fi­dent of his physical state to be able to per­form at his best.

“We’re try­ing to make him feel con­fi­dent; even the doc­tors are giv­ing him the op­tion to play or not, but I know Salah very well and I’m sure he’s not afraid, he’s not fear­ful,” he said.

“In terms of him on the pitch, if he does de­cide to play he’ll have full guar­an­tees in terms of his physical con­di­tion, he’s go­ing to be fine.

“Cer­tainly he doesn’t feel afraid.” Egypt are back in the World Cup fi­nals for the first time since 1990 and their progress to the last 16 could hinge on Salah en­joy­ing the form that saw him voted Eng­land’s Player of the Year by his fel­low pro­fes­sion­als. Uruguay are seem­ingly the tough­est op­po­nents for the north African team, and they will fancy their chances of ad­vanc­ing from Group A, which also in­cludes tour­na­ment hosts Russia and Saudi Ara­bia. Cu­per was even will­ing to en­ter­tain a ques­tion from a reporter about Salah’s prospects of emerg­ing as the top scorer at the tour­na­ment. “Why not? He could be­come the top goalscorer here and one of the great­est play­ers.” – Reuters

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