Egypt coach Hector Cuper says Mo Salah will start their World Cup opener — and can be the tournament’s top scorer, writes David McDonnell in Moscow.
Salah, who has scored 44 goals for Liverpool this season and was voted double Footballer of the Year, was a major doubt to face Uruguay on Friday following the shoulder injury suffered in the 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
But Cuper is certain Salah is fit to start.
He said: "I can almost 100 per cent say he will play, save for any unforeseen factors at the last minute. Salah has recovered and will play. And nothing prevents him from competing for the title of the golden boot.
“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.”
Despite the boost of Salah being fit, Cuper has warned his side they cannot pin all their World Cup hopes on their star man.
“Egypt are lucky to have one of the best players in the world in their ranks,” said Cuper. “Salah is the Egyptian Lionel Messi, but we can’t just rely on him.
“Salah is the star, but it’s possible that a goalkeeper or a defender will come to the rescue. And then there are the midfielders, who do a lot of running for the team.”
Aside from a Salah, Egypt have a well-drilled group of players, including Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny, who qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years with a game to spare.
Argentina-born Cuper, 62, who led Valencia to successive Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, said he now feels Egyptian after taking charge in March 2015.
“I’ve been working here for three-and-a-half years and I’ve become Egyptian,” said Cuper. “I want to lead the national team to victory.”
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