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All this love – and hate

By Ramadan A. Kader

Egyptians reacted with shock to the shoulder injury sustained by Liverpool superhero Mohamed Salah in the Champions League final. Many of the Egyptian King’s compatriots took to social media and poured their wrath on Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos whom they accused of deliberately targeting Salah by roughly tangling with him on the pitch.

A question on the lips of every Egyptian, including the no-soccer fans, is: Will Salah recover in due time to lead the Pharaohs at the World Cup in Russia?

Last October, Salah’s double sent Egypt to the World Cup after a hiatus of 28 years.

The other side of Salah’s shock injury in Kiev is that the incident showed how the 25- year-old professional is immensely popular in his homeland, not only for his soccer wizardry, but also for his modesty.

Therefore, his devotees in Egypt and beyond got outraged when an ultra-conservative Kuwaiti preacher claimed that Salah’s injury was punishment from God because he broke the Ramadan fast on the day of the final fixture that pitted Liverpool against Real Madrid on May 26. Salah is noted for charity in his Nile Delta village and other parts of the country.

In an apparent rebuttal of the preacher’s claim, the Al-Azhar-affiliated Fatwa Centre said in a statement: “Afflication can be a sign of God’s love for man and his closeness to God.”

One certain thing is that Salah is not just a brilliant footballer. For Egyptians, he is an inspiring role model and a unifying source of joy in hard times.

CAIRO, June 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Mohamed Salah, shoulder injury and all, was unsurprisingly named in Egypt's World Cup squad on Monday. The Liverpool forward was hurt in the first half of the Champions League final and is doubtful for the team's opening match against Uruguay on June 14.

Egypt coach Hector Cuper also picked veteran goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary. At 45, El-Hadary is on his way to becoming the oldest person to play in a World Cup match.

Midfielder Mohamed Elneny, still nursing an ankle injury from playing with Arsenal, was also chosen.

Cuper announced the 23-man squad following a morning practice session in Italy, where the team has camped for the past 10 days. The announcement followed two unconvincing performances by Egypt, a 1-1 draw against Kuwait on May 25 and a scoreless draw against Colombia on Friday.

Egypt's final warm-up match will be against Belgium in Brussels on Wednesday.

Salah, the Premier League's top scorer, almost singlehandedly led Egypt to its first World Cup since 1990. But there have been conflicting reports about how long it would take him to recover, with the Egyptian Football Association optimistically saying he would be ready for the World Cup. After Uruguay, Egypt will face host Russia on June 19 and play Saudi Arabia on June 25 in Group A.

Liverpool has not said when Salah, who is being treated in Spain, will be fit again.

Even when Salah was available, Egypt often struggled to consistently threaten up front because he didn't get the same service as with Liverpool.

Turkey-based Mahmoud Hassan is the most likely candidate to replace Salah on the right wing for the opening match. Ramadan Sobhi, who plays for Stoke, is set to play on the left wing while Marwan Mohsen would be the center forward.

Cuper predictably picked the towering Ahmed Hegazy to lead Egypt's back four. Hegazy's teammate at West Bromwich Albion, Ali Gabr, was also named in the squad, alongside Al-Ahly trio Ahmed Fathy, Saad Sameer and Ayman Ashraf.

According to Cuper, the dawn-to dusk fast required of Muslims during the current month of Ramadan has had some negative impact on the players' performance in the recent friendlies.

Ramadan began on May 17 in Egypt. Its final day will either be the day before the match against Uruguay or on match day.

 

CAIRO, June 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Mohamed Salah has been named in Egypt's World Cup squad, despite a shoulder injury which will keep him out for three weeks.

Last week, a statement on the EFA's Facebook page read: "Dr Mohamed Abu Ula confirmed that the period of absence of Salah due to injury will not exceed three weeks."

Under such a timeframe, Salah would likely miss Egypt's first two games in Group A, but could return for the stage's finale against Saudi Arabia on June 25.

Egypt have been working together with Liverpool on Salah's fitness since the forward suffered the injury in the first half of the Reds' defeat to Real Madrid in Saturday's Champions League final.

Speaking after the Champions League final, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp described Salah's shoulder as a "really serious injury," but the Egyptian Football Federation said it was optimistic that he will be ready for their World Cup opener against Uruguay on June 15.

However, the new timeframe provided by Egypt means Salah would be back at the latest on June 20, meaning he will miss the opener and likely their second game against Russia on June 19.

A four-week recovery would still leave Salah ready for the knockout stage if Egypt get there.

Salah had travelled to Valencia, Spain, to undergo treatment but has been seen without a sling as he undergoes treatment, footage recorded by El Chiringuito TV shows.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly).

Defenders: Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf (all Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Al Fateh), Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom), Ali Gabr (Zamalek), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles FC).

Midfielders: Tarek Hamed, (Zamalek), Shikabala (Zamalek), Abdallah Said (Al Ahli), Sam Morsy (Wigan Athletic), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Mahmoud Kahraba (Al Ittihad), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa), Amr Warda (Atromitos Athens).

Forwards: Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

CAIRO, June 3, 2018 (News Wires) - Mohamed Salah's absence is affecting Egypt's World Cup preparations, coach Hector Cuper said after the team played out a goalless draw with Colombia at the start of the weekend.

"We are working to cover the absence of Salah. The players responded perfectly to our instructions, but Salah's absence affects any team negatively," Cuper said after Friday's goallesss draw in Bergamo, Italy.

The draw means Egypt have now gone five games without victory, stretching back to last October.

Salah is still in doubt for Egypt's opening match in Group A on June 15 against Uruguay in Ekaterinburg after suffering a shoulder injury in the Champions League final for Liverpool late last month.

He also missed Egypt's draws with Kuwait on May 25, as he was still preparing for the final against Real Madrid.

Salah will also not be in the line-up against Belgium in Brussels on Wednesday when the Egyptians conclude their preparations before heading to Russia.

Egypt last won against Congo last October in the World Cup qualifiers and since then have drawn with Ghana, been beaten by Portugal and Greece in March, and also drew their last two matches.

But Cuper saw positives in Friday's draw.

"The result was good, especially as the players' performances were affected by the fact that they were fasting," Cuper said, referring to the Islamic month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast during daylight hours.

"We are trying to solve this problem with nutrition experts, to avoid the negative effects of the players abstaining from food and water for a large number of hours.

"I'm most worried about turning from defence to attack as quick as we can. We've tried to achieve satisfactory form especially playing against a big team like Colombia. The draw was a good result but we want to win in the coming matches."

The seven-time African champions are in Group A at the World Cup, taking on hosts Russia on June 19 in their second game before going up against Saudi Arabia on June 25.

Egypt make their first World Cup appearance since 1990, when they were eliminated at the group stage.

 

CAIRO, May 30, 2018 (MENA) - The UK Investment Minister, Graham Stuart, said Liverpool's Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah is the best sports investment in individuals in Britain over the past years.

During a meeting with a number of reporters, he said although he is a fan of Manchester United, he considers Mo Salah  a unique star as he is not just a magnificent goalscorer, he also has a distinguished character that made me as a Manchester United fan love him.

Stuart said he is looking forward to getting another Mohamed Salah from Egypt, but this time he would be a Manchester United player.

LONDON, May 29, 2018 (MENA) - Nearly half a million people have signed an online petition calling on FIFA and UEFA to punish Sergio Ramos for "intentionally hurting Mohamed Salah" in Saturday night's Champions League final, The Independent reported Tuesday.

During the first half of Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Liverpool, Ramos hauled Salah to the ground leaving the Egyptian clutching his shoulder. Salah tried to continue but left the pitch in tears soon afterwards.

The Egypt Football Association announced that Salah had suffered a sprain of the shoulder ligaments, but there is not yet a timescale on his recovery and the PFA player of the year could now miss the World Cup, which begins on 14 June.

The online petition to see the Madrid captain banned for the challenge has more than 460,000 signatures.

"Sergio Ramos intentionally kept Mohamed Salah's arm under his armpit, causing dislocation of his shoulder," claims the petition. "Not only missing the rest of the game, but also missing the World Cup 2018."

"Sergio Ramos represents an awful example to future generations of football players. Instead of winning matches fairly, he uses tricks that defy the spirit of the game and fair play. UEFA and FIFA should take measures against Ramos and similar players, using the video recordings of matches to keep the spirit of the game," t concluded.

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