Mohamed Salah didn't play in Egypt's 1-0 loss to Uruguay. Photo: Reuters

Yekaterinburg  Egypt coach Hector Cuper was pondering what might have been on Saturday after opting to leave out forward Mohamed Salah for Friday's 1-0 loss to Uruguay at the World Cup.

The Liverpool player, who scored 44 goals in a stunning season in England, hurt his shoulder in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid last month but Cuper said on the eve of the Uruguay game that Salah was fit.

However, he decided not to risk him on Friday in the hope he would be be totally fit for the other Group A clashes against Russia on Tuesday and Saudi Arabia. The ploy looked to be working but backfired when Jose Gimenez headed in a late winner.

"Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch, the outcome would have been different but we can't know that," Cuper told reporters.

"There was some doubt if he fell or was hit by another player, and we wanted to avoid a risk," Cuper said. "We want to have him in top form for Russia and Saudi Arabia."

But given Russia got off to a flying start with a 5-0 win over the Saudi's in the tournament's opening game, Egypt are now playing catch up and even the pace and skills of Salah might not be enough.

dpa 

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