Egypt boss Hector Cuper is confident that his superstar Mohamed Salah will be on the plane to Russia – but admits his side have been forced to plan for life without him.
Egyptian fans have hung on every word emanating from Salah’s camp since he damaged his shoulder ligaments after being roughed up by Sergio Ramos in Liverpool‘s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last Saturday.
It was easy to fear the worst when an emotional Salah left Kiev with his arm in a a sling, but the 25-year-old is expected to be back at some point during Egypt’s group matches – if not their opener against Uruguay.
Without him, Egypt toiled up front in a 0-0 draw with fellow World Cup entrants Colombia in Italy on Friday night.
And Cuper conceded his side is not the same beast without their Egyptian King, although expressed his confidence that Salah’s injury comeback is on track.
“We are optimistic, and every medical report says he will make it,” said Cuper, whose side faces Belgium in their final warm-up game on Wednesday. “But we still have to prepare for any situation that could happen before we start.
“Salah is not easy to replace, no doubt about that. He is a weapon for us, especially on counter-attack, making use of his speed and his quality. That’s why today we struggled in our attacking performance.”
Cuper also believes his side will only get better upon the conclusion of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
“We tried to compensate that with some team playing, but as I said in the second half we lacked stamina because we have a special condition … for religious reasons, players don’t drink nor eat anything, and we actually felt that,” added the Argentine.
“We tried to manage it using the whole team so it could try to respond better. We sprinted very well, because it was not easy to recover the ball.”
Mohamed Salah could feature in the World Cup 2018 group stage after the Egyptian Football Association announced his shoulder injury should keep him out for a maximum of three weeks.
The Liverpool forward suffered the injury in the first half of the Reds’ defeat to Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final.
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.”
Egypt open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on Friday, June 15. The African side also play Russia (June 19) and Saudi Arabia (June 25) in Group A.
Egypt and Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah was doorstepped by a Spanish journalist on Tuesday as he arrived in Spain for shoulder treatment, staying tight lipped while being asked a string of forward questions in the process.
Salah, 25, injured his shoulder in a controversial first-half collision with Real Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos during Saturday’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat for the Reds.
In a bid to salvage his World Cup 2018 hopes, the forward has headed to Spain to seek expert treatment.
Watch his arrival below.