Published: Wed, June 20, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Salah still a doubt for World Cup opener against Uruguay

Salah still a doubt for World Cup opener against Uruguay

Egypt goalie Mohamed El Shenawi pinched the ball away from Luis Suarez foot when putting on through to a goal by Edison Cavani before Suarez could pull a trigger from the six yard.

The 26-year-old, who scored 44 goals in 52 games for Liverpool this season and picked up the PFA's Premier League Player of the Year award in the process, is Egypt's talisman.

It is hoped that the Liverpool forward will feature in their next game as he watched the full match from the bench.

Fears that Russian Federation may become just the second host nation to fail to qualify from the group stages have been quashed for now, but their next opponents Egypt were given a huge boost by the return to fitness of Mohamed Salah ahead of their clash with Uruguay on Friday.

Uruguay now has three points in Group A, but still trails Russian Federation on goal difference after the host nation's 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on Thursday. To cap off a shambolic display, the Barcelona striker dived in the injury time in what appeared to be a laughable act on the pitch to get referee's attention.

"He was fit to play against Uruguay but the coach did not want to take the risk", said the EFA.

Salah's omission from the first XI is something of a surprise given Cuper's comments on Thursday, when he said: "We still have to see how training goes today, but I can nearly assure you 100 percent that he'll play, we are all very optimistic that he will be on the pitch".

It was not clear if he would come on as a substitute or whether Cuper would save him for the later group games against Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.

Luis Suarez has been a controversial figure much of his club and global career, with a memorable bite being the last we saw of him in a World Cup.

Two saves from Suarez and a powerful volley from Cavani earned him Man of the Match award after the game. He has 42 goals for Uruguay and poses a significant threat to the Egyptian defense.

With its traditional defensive tactics preferred by coach Hector Cuper, Egypt badly needs Salah and his goals to succeed.

The Pharaohs were issued a real scare when Cavani forced another world-class save from El Shenawy and hit the post in quick succession - going into the last ten minutes of the encounter. And Cuper hinted on Thursday that it was the player who had the final say whether to play.

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