March 1, 2024


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Mohamed Salah's departure from the African Cup of Nations raises confusion and blame

Mohamed Salah's departure from the African Cup of Nations raises confusion and blame

While the Egyptian Football Association issued the press release on Sunday evening confirming Mohamed Salah's return to Liverpool to undergo rehabilitation from a hamstring injury, Mohamed Aboul Wafa was telling a TV program in Cairo that there was nothing to worry about regarding the player's condition and he was not aware With any plan to get him out of Ivory Coast, stressing his responsibility to remain in the country because he is the team leader.

Al-Wafa was responding to Jurgen Klopp’s announcement that Salah’s treatment is likely to be covered by Liverpool employees and not Egypt. While on air, the Egyptian Football Association confirmed the development and Al-Wafa, a member of the organisation's board of directors, somewhat awkwardly attempted to change direction, placing responsibility for decisions made by officials on the other side of the continent. “I'm sure they did the right thing,” he suggested.

The next morning, the EFA station in Abidjan admitted this The athlete The plan, at least on their part, was to announce Salah's exit from the competition after the team's decisive match in Group Two with Cape Verde.

However, the organization did not respond to a question about whether this had been agreed with Liverpool, nor did it answer when asked about allegations emanating from Egypt that UEFA were angry with Klopp and therefore Liverpool for making this issue a public issue before they became public. We are ready. Meanwhile, Liverpool declined the opportunity to answer questions on the matter.

If every institution was trying to protect Salah as the hours passed, the opposite happened. In light of this uncertainty, the pressure on Salah has increased, putting him in a position with his country where it now seems impossible for him to win.

If Klopp remained calm and Egypt lost to Cape Verde, Salah could have returned to Liverpool without anyone knowing what would happen.

Egypt conceded a late equalizer against Cape Verde but finished second in Group B (Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

Alternatively, Egypt's defeat to Cape Verde could have seen Salah blamed for causing a distraction. Now, progressing through the rounds will serve as proof to his critics, who hardly need any more fuel, that the team is better off without him, whether that is true or otherwise.

His coach, Rui Vitoria, provided some clarifications regarding the sequence of events after Egypt qualified for the round of 16 in exciting circumstances on Monday evening. After Egypt's late goal was confirmed after a long VAR delay, they conceded an equaliser. It was only at the final whistle that the players realized that Ghana had conceded two late goals in their match against Mozambique in Epimbe, pushing Egypt to second place in Group B.

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Salah watched it all from the stands before returning to Liverpool. Vitoria described his injury as “very complicated,” and seemed to suggest that Egypt had known about this for some time, but he wanted to wait until after this match to talk “calmly” about Salah. Vitoria said that anonymous “mediators” from Liverpool prevented this from happening.

Up until this point, the most clarity on Salah's condition had come through his agent just 90 minutes before kick-off.

In the face of the severe criticism that Salah is being subjected to in Egypt, Rami Abbas used social media to confirm that the injury was “more serious than initially thought.”

According to Abbas, Salah will be absent from the field for a period ranging from 21 to 28 days. With the Africa Cup of Nations final still 21 days away from the moment he entered the conversation, Abbas concluded that a return to Liverpool gave his client the “best chance” of future involvement in the tournament – ​​but that seems optimistic given the time frames involved.

This appears to mean that Salah has suffered a first or second degree tear, which could lead to a tear in the skin The athlete As reported on Friday, it will leave him unable to play for at least three weeks.

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Just hours before Klopp announced that his striker might be returning to Merseyside, Salah was the focus of a press conference at the Palace of Culture in Abidjan, and did not appear to be preparing to leave.

The subsequent press release from Egypt indicated that the test results, revealed later in the afternoon, led to a change in strategy. Instead of missing just two matches as suggested on Friday, Salah was now racing to be ready for the semi-finals if Egypt got there. Meanwhile, Klopp suggested that Salah could return to Ivory Coast if Egypt qualified, but instead pointed to the possibility of him appearing in the final.

An English translation of the original Egyptian statement regarding Salah's safety initially caused further confusion, with damage to the back of his thigh diagnosed through X-ray. Normally, X-rays are performed to evaluate bone health, and to get a clearer picture of the muscle injury, Salah needed an MRI scan.

While Vitoria praised the “extensive experience” of his doctors, Liverpool pointed out that the original message was lost in translation. The Egyptian Federation did not respond when The athlete He asked for clarification on the treatment the player was receiving.

But late Monday night, national team doctor Mohamed Abu El-Ela told Egyptian TV channel On Time Sports that while discussions with Liverpool were ongoing, the Premier League club had not followed an agreed timetable. “We wanted this (statement) to be issued after the match, and this is what we agreed upon with Liverpool.”

He also revealed the extent to which the Egyptian and Liverpool staff talked about Salah’s injury: “The level of communication (with Liverpool) reached the point that we were talking five times a day, for half an hour in each call.”

The athlete Contacted Liverpool for comment.

Salah watches the Egypt match on Monday evening (Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

It would be understandable for Liverpool to ask serious questions about why a player who rarely suffers from injuries, particularly muscularly, would withdraw after such a short spell under someone else's care.

In the past, Liverpool sent medical professionals to care for its players during the Africa Cup of Nations. It happened in Cameroon two years ago, when three players participated in the tournament. It also happened in 2017 when Sadio Mane was the only Liverpool player to feature in the Gabon match.

On that occasion, the work was assigned to Dave Galley, the club's former physiotherapist. Various reports from that period suggested that Galle was able to monitor Mane's fitness on a daily basis and inform the Senegalese coaching staff if the player needed to adjust training schedules to include rest days and avoid excessive, high-speed running sessions which tend to cause muscle injuries – such as those to hamstrings. knee.

Manny returned from that competition in full health. Three days after Senegal crashed out of the competition with a penalty shootout loss to Cameroon, Mane was introduced as a second-half substitute as Liverpool drew with Chelsea.

After seven years, Liverpool have not sent anyone to accompany Salah. The club did not provide any official explanation for this, but Salah did not have problems in previous competitions with Egypt, so there must be some confidence in the sponsorship received by the player, who valued the club at more than 150 million pounds last summer.

(Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

Egyptians believe the country's football association should have been more aggressive with Liverpool. On the other hand, the Moroccan Football Federation rejected Bayern Munich’s request for Noussair Mazraoui to return to Germany for further evaluation, as the organization’s president, Faouzi Lakjaa, insisted that Bayern send their medical team to San Pedro, west of Ivory Coast.

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There is a difference here because Mazraoui traveled to Ivory Coast with an already diagnosed thigh injury, with his club coach Thomas Tuchel recommending that he only feature as soon as possible in a Group C match. This guidance has been followed.

But Morocco's position on the situation revealed the weaknesses in the Egyptian strategy, as well as the fragility of the influence of the football body in the country.

One of the things Salah has to deal with is quiet, almost unspoken criticism over the blurred lines that exist between the Football Association and the authoritarian regime. This means that on the surface, it is much easier to blame a footballer living abroad than a local figure with powerful friends.

While football federations, such as those in Morocco and Senegal, have succeeded in detaching themselves from the motives of government officials, the relationship in Egypt remains tangled. Critics believe that the lack of sound football-related leadership within UEFA means that the organization does not have the wisdom to positively influence the most famous player the country has ever produced.

Given that few Egyptian footballers succeed abroad, UEFA is also accused of not investing in its relationships with the clubs of players who do achieve success.

After the Arab Spring in 2011, a former player named Hani Abu Rida aspired to become president of UEFA. He is an engineering entrepreneur and has held positions at CAF and FIFA. However, his previous position as Vice President of the Football Association made it difficult for him to rise to the top position due to his connections to the old pre-revolutionary regime.

This led to the appointment of Jamal Alam. While Abu Rida controlled the back of the stage, the arrangement worked for four years. With enough distance since the revolution, Abu Rida was able to move forward in 2016, but was forced to resign three years later when Egypt crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts amid a player scandal involving Amr Warda, who was expelled from the team. To send inappropriate messages to women online to be quickly retrieved.

For two years, the organization remained without an elected board of directors. During this period, the army and its intelligence controlled everything in Egypt, but in 2022, Gamal Alam returned from the shadows.

“They chose him because he is weak and very happy to be president,” says a source close to the organization, who requested anonymity to protect his safety. “At the same time, it feels like a natural development because he was the former president of UEFA.

“Welcome to Egypt.”

(Top image: Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)