Egypt coach ‘very optimistic’ Salah will compete in World Cup opener

Kristopher Nichols
June 16, 2018

Gimenez rose perfectly to meet a Carlos Sanchez free kick and score the goal that broke a 48-year Uruguayan curse of failing to win their opening game at World Cup finals.

Jose Gimenez headed powerfully into the net in the 90th minute as he met Carlos Sanchez's free-kick to give the South Americans a winning start in Russian Federation.

To make matters harder, Russian Federation will be confident after their crushing 5-0 victory over a hapless Saudi Arabia team, who Uruguay will surely beat to all but seal their place in the last 16 with a game to spare.

Suarez, immobile for large parts of the game, had three glorious opportunities, hitting the side netting in the first half and failing to beat Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy twice in the second from close range.

Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was on the bench for his country's first World Cup match since 1990 after injuring his shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month's Champions League final.

Salah won the English Premier League Golden Boot Award after scoring 34 goals last season and capped a glorious season at Liverpool with Player of the Season award.

"I would be happy if Salah could play". I don't think anyone has bad will or tries to deliberately injure a player. "If Mo had been on the pitch it may have been different but we can't know that".

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At the last World Cup in Brazil, no game had fewer than 37,000 people in the crowd.

"Salah will participate in tomorrow's match by 100% unless there is a radical change today or tomorrow", Egypt Coach Hector Cuper told the press.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said: "To win matches in this group means we will be able to progress".

Speculation over Salah's fitness had dominated the buildup, and Cuper was left second-guessing his decision not to involve his star player.

Salah is crucial to Egypt's hopes of making it out of a weak-looking group also featuring hosts Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia. Tabarez called it "secondary statistics". In 1970, Uruguay also reached the semifinals.

On Thursday, Cuper was optimistic that Salah would play in the opener.

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