LIVERPOOL — Mohamed Salah will leave the Egypt squad at the Africa Cup of Nations to continue treatment on a hamstring injury at his club Liverpool, the country’s football association said on Sunday, but they hope he will return to the tournament in Ivory Coast.
“Salah will attend (Monday’s) game against Cape Verde and then will travel to the UK,” the Egyptian Football Association said.
“After communication between the Egyptian medical staff and their Liverpool counterparts, we have agreed that the player will return to the UK to continue his treatment, hoping to return to the Egypt team for the semi-finals.”
The announcement comes after Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it “makes sense” for the 31-year-old to undergo treatment in England.
“That’s the plan,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s 4-0 victory away to Bournemouth on Sunday when asked if Salah would now return to Merseyside.
“If that’s already decided 100 per cent, I don’t know. But that’s the plan. I think probably everybody sees it makes sense that he’s doing the rehab with us or with our people.”
Salah had already been ruled out of the Pharaohs’ crucial Group B clash against Cape Verde in Abidjan on Monday and Egpyt’s last-16 match should they progress.
The Egyptian FA had initially hoped he would be back for an eventual quarter-final, but now appear resigned to being without him until a possible semi-final on February 7.
Klopp did leave the door open for Salah to return to the tournament should he prove his fitness while Egypt are still alive.
“If Egypt qualifies for the final and he is fit before the final, then probably yes,” added Klopp. “Why not? That’s clear.”
After drawing their opening two games at the tournament, the record seven-time African champions need to beat already-qualified Cape Verde just to be guaranteed of qualifying for the last 16.
Salah salvaged a 2-2 draw with Mozambique from the penalty spot in Egypt’s opening game before limping off in the first half of the stalemate against Ghana.
His injury is the latest cruel twist of fate for the player at the AFCON.
He has never won the trophy and twice fallen short in the final, to Cameroon in 2017 and Senegal two years ago.
Salah told a press conference on Sunday he remains convinced he will be crowned champion of Africa “sooner or later.”
“I have won everything possible but this one not yet,” said the two-time African footballer of the year.
“It will happen somehow, that is what I believe, and whatever I believe I achieve, so sooner or later it will happen.” — AFP