GROZNY, Russia – Liverpool star Mohamed Salah sat out Egypt training again on Sunday following the North Africans’ arrival in Grozny ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Nursing a shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final – which Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid – Salah did come out on to the pitch in Grozny, accompanied by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, to greet fans eager to catch a glimpse of the English Premier League player of the year.
Salah is facing a race against time to be fit to lead Egypt in Russia since injuring his shoulder when Sergio Ramos wrestled him to the ground on May 26.
After arriving from Cairo, Egypt’s players and Argentinian coach Hector Cuper made a beeline to the Akhmat-Arena stadium in Russia’s Chechen Republic.
The Pharaohs are set to play their first World Cup game on Friday against Uruguay in Ekaterinburg.
“I’m excited. God-willing, I’m well prepared and things are going well, and my morale is high,” Salah told AFP. “I cannot say what we’re going to reach, but the players’ ambitions are high, and I hope we get a good result.”
At the stadium, some Egyptian medical students residing in Grozny were among 8 000 fans present to see Salah, who should be one of the top contenders for the Ballon d’Or this year, alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar of Brazil.
“The Egyptian team is to us like the (Russian Premier League) Akhmat team, and we are happy to welcome them,” Kadyrov, the president of this majority-Muslim region of Russia, told AFP. “Mohamed Salah is a good player, and he is among the best in the world.”
Team doctor Mohamed Abou al-Ela admitted Salah was unlikely to play in Egypt’s opening Group A match. “He still feels pain... this type of injury needs a recovery period of three weeks before going back to the field,” said Abou el-Ela.
He may yet be fit to face Russia on June 19 in Saint Petersburg, though, and then Saudi Arabia on June 25 in Volgograd.