Will he or won’t he? Egypt holds its breath over in­jured Mo Salah

The Nation - - SPORT -

MO­HAMED Salah is in a high-pro­file race to be fit for Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay tonight and even op­po­nents are hop­ing the Liver­pool ace could yet play a lead­ing role in Rus­sia.

The striker and Egyp­tian su­per­star, who is nurs­ing an in­jured shoul­der, is cru­cial to the north African side’s hopes of mak­ing it out of a weak-look­ing Group A also fea­tur­ing the hosts and Saudi Ara­bia.

Egypt play Uruguay – tipped by some as dark horses – in Yekaterinburg in just the sec­ond game of the tour­na­ment, fol­low­ing Rus­sia against Saudi Ara­bia in the open­ing match.

Salah, who turns 26 on the day of the game, gave 100 mil­lion fran­tic Egyp­tians a mas­sive boost on Wednesday when he joined a squad train­ing ses­sion at their Grozny base.

He had been side­lined since suf­fer­ing a shoul­der in­jury in Liver­pool’s Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal loss to Real Madrid on May 26, cast­ing se­vere doubt on his World Cup par­tic­i­pa­tion.

He went through a range of warmup ex­er­cises with his team­mates, but Egyp­tian team of­fi­cials are giv­ing lit­tle away.

“There’s a good de­gree of progress but no de­fin­i­tive de­ci­sion on whether he takes part, as we are fol­low­ing his case day by day,” team di­rec­tor Ihab Lahita told re­porters.

Egypt’s Ar­gen­tine coach Hec­tor Cu­per wants to see Salah train again be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sion on whether the player is fit to face a Uruguay side boast­ing the twin at­tack­ing threat of Luis Suarez and Edin­son Ca­vani. The most likely out­come is that Salah, one of the out­stand­ing play­ers in the world this sea­son as he helped pro­pel Liver­pool to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, will be on the bench tonight.

Salah’s World Cup dream was left on the brink when he ex­ited the fi­nal in tears af­ter Real Madrid skip­per Ser­gio Ramos wres­tled him to the ground.

Cu­per has at­tempted to dis­miss the no­tion that counter-at­tack­ing Egypt are a one-man side, but with 44 goals this sea­son for Liver­pool, Salah’s badly timed in­jury has be­come a na­tional ob­ses­sion back home.

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