Mohamed Salah is fit and a near certainty to face Uruguay in Egpyt’s first match or World Cup 2018 on Friday, handing a significant a boost to the North African nation’s chances of advancing from Group A in their first World Cup appearance since 1990.
“I can almost 100 percent say he will play, save for any unforeseen factors at the last minute,” manager Hector Cuper told journalists in Russia today. ”We’re trying to make him feel confident. The doctors are giving him the options to play or not.
“I know Salah very well, he’s not fearful, we always know we’re running a risk when playing a match, that’s something we can’t hide. But if he does decide to play he’ll have full guarantees on his physical condition and I’m sure he will be fine.”
Words like “running a risk” will concern Liverpool fans, who will inevitably wonder if Egypt—as dependant on Salah as they are—would push the player to play even if he wasn’t fully fit. That he will likely face Uruguay, though, might actually be a positive.
In Group A, Uruguay are favourites while Egypt and Russia are expected to fight for second, and that makes it more important for Egypt that Salah is available to face the Russians and group underdogs Saudi Arabia. Those are the games they need results in.
Those are the games they need Salah fit for—and playing him at less than 100% against Uruguay on Friday would only risk his chances of being available later. Or at least, for Liverpool fans—and one imagines Egyptians as well—that has to be the hope.
“He could become the top goalscorer here and one of the greatest players,” Cuper added, admitting Egypt’s chances depend on Salah. “For three years and a few months we’ve decided on a certain path. We’ve achieved a lot by following that path.”