Kane, Salah clash

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

LON­DON. — Harry Kane and Mo­hamed Salah have the per­fect stage to end their un­ex­pected slumps when the su­per­star strik­ers go head to head in English Premier Soc­cer League at Wem­b­ley to­mor­row.

Just four months ago, Tot­ten­ham striker Kane and Liver­pool for­ward Salah were be­ing hailed as Europe’s most feared marks­men af­ter the pair tore through Premier League de­fences on a weekly ba­sis.

Yet they go into this week­end’s ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated clash be­tween Tot­ten­ham and Liver­pool with con­cerns about their abil­ity to main­tain that breath­tak­ing form in the midst of a post-World Cup malaise.

Kane and Salah slugged it out for the English Premier League’s Golden Boot prize right up to the last game of the sea­son. The Egypt in­ter­na­tional, with 32 goals, pipped his Eng­land ri­val to the cov­eted prize de­spite Kane’s first 30-league-goal sea­son.

Salah bagged an in­cred­i­ble 44 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions in his de­but year with Liver­pool, earn­ing him the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Foot­ball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion player of the year awards. But Salah’s sea­son came to a bit­ter con­clu­sion in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal when he suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury af­ter a cyn­i­cal chal­lenge from Real Madrid’s Ser­gio Ramos.

Leav­ing the pitch in tears, Salah’s de­par­ture trig­gered Liver­pool’s 3-1 de­feat and ul­ti­mately cast a cloud over his World Cup, where he missed the first match and was un­able to stop Egypt crash­ing out at the group stage.

The 26-year-old re­turned to Mersey­side to kick off the new cam­paign with a goal in the de­mo­li­tion of West Ham.

But while Salah has scored twice in four games so far for Jur­gen Klopp’s high-fly­ing Liver­pool, he has not been the ef­fer­ves­cent fig­ure that tor­mented op­po­nents last term.

The com­bi­na­tion of lethal fin­ish­ing and off-the-cuff in­spi­ra­tion that made him such a joy to watch has been re­placed with a more sub­dued de­meanour that gives the im­pres­sion he has lost his mojo for now.

Repli­cat­ing the sky-high stan­dards of 2017-18 was never go­ing to be easy for Salah and, iron­i­cally, he was warned of the po­ten­tial for a sopho­more slump by Kane last May.

“For me it is about do­ing it year af­ter year. Any player wants to do it on a con­sis­tent ba­sis and that’s what de­fines a good player from a great player,” he said.

Kane and Salah have a respectful re­la­tion­ship, but their ri­valry in­ten­si­fied when Salah ques­tioned the de­ci­sion to award Tot­ten­ham’s sec­ond goal in April’s 2-0 win at Stoke to Kane, af­ter it had ini­tially been cred­ited to Chris­tian Erik­sen.

Kane may have been hurt by the per­cep­tion he was greed­ily hunt­ing in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades but, un­de­terred, the Eng­land cap­tain fin­ished as top scorer at the World Cup with six goals.

Yet, by his own ad­mis­sion, Kane was not quite at his best in Rus­sia de­spite Eng­land’s run to the semi-fi­nals and the han­gover has con­tin­ued into the new cam­paign.

The 25-year-old has just scored two goals in six games for club and coun­try this sea­son, with the sta­tis­tics be­hind those num­bers mak­ing for even more un­set­tling read­ing. — AFP.

Mo­hamed Salah

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