YEKATERINBURG, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah has recovered from a shoulder injury and will play in their World Cup opener against Uruguay, coach Hector Cuper has confirmed.
"I can almost assure you 100 per cent that he will play, save unforeseen circumstances at the very last minute," Cuper said ahead of Friday's Group A match.
The 25-year-old injured shoulder ligaments in the Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid on May 26 and has not played since.
"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," Cuper added.
"In terms of him on the pitch - if he does decide to play he'll have full guarantees in terms of his physical condition, he's going to be fine. Certainly he doesn't feel afraid."
Asked about Salah's chances of starring at the tournament, Cuper said: "Why not? He could become the top goalscorer here and one of the greatest players."
Ihab Leheta, the national team manager, told Reuters by phone: "The medical staff will provide a comprehensive report on the condition of Salah tomorrow and the coach will not rush in his decision."
Salah left the field in tears after sustaining a shoulder ligament injury while playing for Liverpool in last month's Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.
Since then, Egypt's fans have been tortured by the possibility that their first appearance in the World Cup finals for 28 years could be ruined by the loss of their biggest star, who netted 44 goals for Liverpool in his first season at Anfield.
"We cried with him," said Samy Mikhail, an Egyptian Australian from Sydney who predicted that Egypt without Salah would suffer the same fate as Liverpool against Real.
"Without him, Liverpool collapsed. Egypt depends on him so much... If he gets injured again, it's over."
Mikhail and his nine-year-old son Luke were among several-dozen Egyptians who cheered and chanted Salah's name as the players arrived at their Yekaterinburg hotel on Wednesday evening.
But some fans interviewed at the hotel and the airport were cautious about bringing Salah back from injury too soon.
"He's very important and I don't think we should risk him in the first match. It is better to let him rest. Our performance will be 60-70 percent without him," said one supporter, Mohamed Mohsen.
"He's a hero to the nation and you wouldn't want to risk his health going forward. It's a big loss if he doesn't play but he's really loved in Egypt and nobody would want to see him hurt," said another, Mohamed Shehata.
Whether he plays or not, there is no doubting the commitment of the Egypt fans who have travelled from around the world to Yekaterinburg, 1,760 km (1,100 miles) east of Moscow.
"It took 44 hours to come over here," said Mohamed Kemal, who is from Houston, Texas. "And I am here for the team and we are going to be very loud in the stadium on Friday."
Egypt will also face hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia in the group stage.