SAINT PETERSBURG, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Mohamed Salah is set to return to action on Tuesday night as Egypt take on Russia in the 2018 World Cup.
The Liverpool forward is in contention to play a part in the Pharaohs’ crucial group-stage encounter with the tournament hosts, having sat out their opening fixture with Uruguay as he continued to recover from the shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper said: "Salah is fit. We always carry out a last physical test before we announce our line-up and today we will have an important test for him to see how he does. I think he will be able to play. He is an essential piece in our team."
He continued: "He's a great player, a crucial player, that much is perfectly clear. Salah is one of the best players in the world. For me there's no shadow of a doubt there. It's an honour and a privilege to coach him.
"On top of being talented, he is humble. He is a team player and that at least for me is extremely important now. He's an important player for us. Nobody can deny that. I say it with all due respect to the other players in the Egyptian squad... I think he'll be able to play."
Egypt take on Russia in Saint Petersburg, with kick off set for 8pm Cairo Local time.
MOSCOW, June 19, 2018 (MENA) - Egyptian and Liverpool player Mohamed Salah sent a message to Egyptian fans, saying he is ready for Egypt's second group match against Russia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Salah uploaded a video on his instagram account, saying: "You might think the pressure of all these people on me to score would form a load that could destroy any player," adding that he does not see it this way, stressing those people are the source of his strength and creativity and are not a load on him.
He said when he goes down the field they are with him and this makes him 100 million times stronger.
Egypt was defeated 1-0 by Uruguay in its first match of group A of the world cup, while Saudi Arabia lost 5-0 to host Russia.
Salah is expected to play the match between Egypt and Russia on Tuesday.
ST PETERSBURG, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Egypt's Mohamed Salah is a looming obstacle as Russia attempt to virtually secure their place in the knockout stages of the World Cup in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
Fears that poor performances from the home side could dampen enthusiasm in the host nation were blown away by a 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia in the opening game.
The seven-time African champions will pose a much tougher task, but a lot will depend upon Salah's fitness.
Liverpool star Salah has not featured since leaving the field in tears early in the Champions League final just over three weeks ago after landing heavily on his left shoulder and had to watch from the bench as Egypt lost 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening game.
Salah has been declared 100 percent fit by Egypt's team doctor and his agent, leaving little doubt he will be thrown back into action in the Pharaohs' hour of need.
However, as he returned to training on Saturday, Salah was seen by AFP reporters at Egypt's training camp in Grozny needing help from teammates to lift a training top over his head.
"Salah participated in training with his teammates for the entire session and he is ready to play against Russia according to technical staff," Egypt's team manager Ihab Leheta told FIFA.com.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper's decision not to risk Salah against Uruguay may have been influenced by the fact his side held out for 89 minutes before conceding to Jose Gimenez, by which time the Argentine had made all three of his substitutions.
"Russia's game is fateful and difficult because of our defeat against Uruguay," said Leheta. "Winning is our only choice".
Most important game
If fully fit, the sight of Salah, who scored 44 goals in a remarkable debut season at Liverpool, will strike fear into the Russians.
Concerns Russia could become just the second host nation to bow out of the World Cup at the group stage after a seven-game winless run ahead of the tournament have been alleviated by a perfect start.
With Uruguay favourites to top the group, though, Russia are keen not to have to rely on getting something from their final group game against the two-time former world champions.
"The second game will be our most important one in the group stage," said Russia's deputy prime minister and former football federation president Vitaly Mutko after attending Russia's training session on Sunday.
A close ally of President Vladimir Putin, Mutko oversaw preparations for the tournament at a cost of more than $13 billion.
"In the first match, everyone saw how much the players cared. If we play up to our level, I don't see any problems."
Denis Cheryshev was Russia's hero against Saudi Arabia as he came off the bench to score twice.
And the Villarreal winger accepted it will be a more "interesting" clash if Salah is fit.
"If he's not there, does that mean our task becomes easy? Not at all," he told FIFA.com "If he plays, it will be hard but more interesting. He's one of the best and you always want to compete with the best and win."
Russia will be without one of their key players, with Alan Dzagoev expected to miss the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury.
ST PETERSBURG, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Russia got their World Cup campaign off to a dream start with a 5-0 thumping of Saudi Arabia but face an entirely different beast in the form of Egypt, who should be revitalized by the return of their talismanic striker Mohamed Salah.
The hosts face the north Africans in St Petersburg on Tuesday and defeat would almost certainly condemn Egypt to an early exit.
Russia top Group A on goal difference ahead of favorites Uruguay, who needed a last-gasp goal to scrape past a dogged Egypt 1-0 in their first game of the tournament.
Egypt, coached by Argentine Hector Cuper, are still targeting a second-placed finish in the group, but must beat Russia to have any hope of achieving that goal.
Cuper’s team showed against Uruguay they will not defend as generously as the hapless Saudis, and Salah, who should make his first start, will relish the chance to torment Russia’s aging defense.
Coach Stanislav Cherchesov started center back Sergei Ignashevich, 38, and full back Yuri Zhirkov, 34, in the first match, and if the Russia coach sticks with the same duo, Egypt and Salah could capitalize.
The 26-year-old’s birthday was ruined by the Uruguay defeat and he spent the match on the bench as Cuper elected not to risk his star man, who is making his return from a shoulder injury.
While Zhirkov still has plenty of pace, he will find it hard to cope with the lightning-quick Salah, who cut a swathe of destruction through European defenses for Liverpool last season while coming in from the right wing on to his lethal left foot.
Ignashevich’s experience is an asset but his age counts against him and any attempt to double up on Salah will free up Mahmoud Hassan, better known by his nickname “Trezeguet”, on the opposite flank.
The 23-year-old proved to be a handful against Uruguay and Russia’s Brazil-born right back Mario Fernandes will need all his wits about him to keep Trezeguet quiet.
While Egypt are strengthened immeasurably by Salah’s return, Russia will be weakened by the absence of creative midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who was injured during their opening match.
Dzagoev was replaced by Denis Cheryshev, who earned himself instant cult status with a well-taken brace.
After entering the tournament ranked a lowly 70th in the world, expectations around Russia were subdued, with many fans believing the team might prove an embarrassment.
The opening win has put those fears to rest, but the confidence now flowing through the Russian ranks could be their undoing.
Egypt are set up to play on the counter-attack, with Cuper asking his midfielders and defenders to stick close together in two rigid banks of four and restrict the spaces that opponents seek to exploit.
The game plan is simple - get the ball into Salah’s feet quickly and let him do what he does best.
If he is match fit, Russia will be hard pressed to stop him helping Egypt to their first victory at a World Cup.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (News Wires) - Mohamed Salah has the perfect chance to start Egypt's World Cup party and put Russia's on hold when he returns for a crucial match on Tuesday at 8:00 pm Cairo Local Time.
Egypt needs his mercurial talent and scoring touch, for defeat will end Egypt's World Cup outright if Uruguay beats Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in the other Group A game.
Salah's recovery from injury has become an ongoing mini-drama for Egypt fans, although their devotion is understandable considering he netted 44 goals in 51 games for Liverpool in his first season and has 33 in 57 for Egypt overall. Last Friday, Pharaohs fans watched in frustration as Egypt failed to break down an obdurate Uruguay lineup.
Salah, too, cut a disconsolate and frustrated figure on the bench as his team lost 1-0 to a late goal. Hardly a fitting way to celebrate his 26th birthday.
GROZNY, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Egypt’s super striker Mohamed Salah needed help from three teammates pulling on a jersey over his injured shoulder Saturday.
The Pharaohs’ best hope in making the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since 1990 has been having an eventful time at his team’s base camp in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Salah watched from the bench as Egypt succumbed to an 89th minute header by defender Jose Gimenez in a 1-0 loss to Uruguay on Friday.
He returned to training on Saturday but was spotted employing the help of three teammates pulling on his top.
The team doctor nevertheless pronounced the Liverpool star “100 per cent ready” to play in Egypt’s second match against host nation Russia in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
But Salah at least he can take comfort in a 100-kilogramme (60 pound) birthday cake he was confronted with on his 26th birthday on Friday.
A video released by the Chechen authorities that has gone viral showed Salah leisurely walking into his hotel lobby suspecting nothing and listening to music on his headphones.
He began smiling meekly and suspecting something was not right when a hotel employee shot confetti in his face.
Then Salah spotted the giant cake sitting on a lacquered table. Topped with a golden boot, the towering structure was topped with layers of candles that surely added up to more than 26.
A Chechen man in a smart suit immediately ran up to Salah with a microphone in apparent expectation of a thank you speech.
Salah did not oblige while smiling shyly and profusely. Salah was well out sight by the time the cake was sliced.
Egypt’s decision to make Grozny their World Cup hope has been roundly criticised by human rights groups because of the Chechen authorities’ deadly persecution of all forms of dissent.