World Cup 2018: Even Mo Salah could not fulfill the Egyptian dream in Russia

first_imgA football World Cup is special for every team but it was a little extra special for Egypt as they made a comeback to the quadrennial event after 28 years.In their previous appearances, the Pharaohs had failed to register even a single win. But with Mohamed Salah in their ranks this time, Egypt were hoping to finally bring an end to their win-less run. But that didn’t happen.Salah, who scored 44 goals in his debut campaign for Liverpool, suffered a shoulder injury in the Champions League final against Real Madrid and that proved too costly for his nation as heavily impacted their preparations for the World Cup.”It would have been a lot more desirable to have had him with us as we prepared,” mused coach Hector Cuper, whose meticulous pre-tournament preparations in Switzerland were skipped by Salah as the striker battled to be fit for Russia.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEThe ‘will he, won’t he play’ speculation extended past the opening game, where Cuper took a view that the match against Uruguay would be their toughest Group A assignment and opted not to risk Salah with two less taxing fixtures to follow.Salah’s subsequent comeback was expected to lift Egypt’s performance up several gears and although he scored against Russia and Saudi Arabia, they lost both to limp home amid bitter disappointment and still without a win at the finals.There had been high expectations after Egypt qualified last year, ramped up after the North Africans were handed what most fans considered a favourable draw and with Salah’s remarkable goal-scoring exploits for Liverpool adding fuel to the fire.advertisementFIFA WORLD CUP: FIXTURES | POINTS TABLESince their last appearance in 1990, Egypt dominated African football in both the African Nations Cup and at club level but botched successive World Cup qualifying campaigns until reaching the finals became an obsessive aim for the country.Veteran Argentine-born coach Cuper delivered the Holy Grail, whipping a relatively inexperienced squad into a workmanlike outfit, which served primarily to exploit Salah’s speed on the counter attack.However, an over-reliance on the 26-year-old became all too apparent as Egyptians recoiled in horror when he landed awkwardly on his shoulder in Kiev, in a tumble whose painful outcome effectively sabotaged their hopes.The team now heads home to an uncertain future with Cuper set to depart and the domestic game in turmoil as clubs feel the financial pinch of spectator restrictions imposed by authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising some seven years ago.(With inputs from Reuters)last_img read more