Egypt coach Hector Cuper has dismissed suggestions that Mohamed Salah is set to quit international football.
Liverpool forward Salah is reportedly unhappy with the Egyptian FA at being used for political ends, including being pictured with controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a man accused of numerous human rights violations.
Egypt were based in the Chechen capital Grozny during the World Cup, with Kadyrov making Salah an honorary citizen of the Russian republic.
A miserable tournament for Cuper’s Pharaohs ended with a surprise 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in Volgograd, a third successive defeat which left them pointless and bottom of Group A.
Speaking about Salah potentially quitting the national team, Cuper said at his post-match press conference: “I don’t think so, I don’t think so.
“I don’t think it’s true because all of those who are here – and those who couldn’t come – really, really support and appreciate the opportunity of playing for the national team, so I don’t think that’s true.”
Both teams were already eliminated ahead of Monday’s dead rubber following successive defeats against Uruguay and hosts Russia.
Salah lobbed Egypt ahead with their first World Cup goal from open play since 1934, but his celebration was notably subdued.
The 25-year-old, who also scored with a penalty in the previous match against Russia, then missed a golden chance which could have helped them end the competition on a high.
After Egypt’s 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary – the oldest player to appear at a World Cup – saved a penalty from Fahad Al Muwallad, the Green Falcons turned the game around thanks to a second spot-kick, converted by Salman Al Faraj, and Salem Al Dawsari’s dramatic injury-time winner.
Despite finishing with three defeats from three games, Cuper feels his players performed well in Russia and were unlucky to lose two games to late goals.
“I think we have played well, it’s true that the results weren’t good, we have lost all three matches,” said the Argentinian, whose contract with Egypt expires at the end of the tournament.
“And I am disappointed that we have lost two games – one in the 90th minute (Uruguay), and the other one in the 95th minute (Saudi Arabia) – that’s what makes me sad and disappointed.
“I’m not going to give an evaluation one to 10 of my team. I think that a score from one to 10 is not the right thing to do.”
Saudi Arabia’s comeback win was their first success at a World Cup since they beat Belgium 1-0 in Washington at USA ’94.
Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was pleased with how his players reacted to losing their two opening games and said it was up to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to choose whether he will continue to lead the team.
“The association will have to decide what they want to do, it doesn’t depend on myself,” said the Spaniard.
“We’ll see what happens over the next few days.
“I am really, really happy with the players, the way they have responded.”