Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has recovered from a shoulder injury and will play in their World Cup opener against Uruguay, coach Hector Cuper said on Thursday.
“I can almost assure you 100 percent that he will play, save unforeseen circumstances at the very last minute,” Cuper told a news conference ahead of Friday’s Group A match.
Salah himself seemed to confirm that he will play when he posted a picture of himself in the dressing room, holding his playing boots.
‘‘I wear these for 100 million Egyptians,’‘ he tweeted.
Salah, who scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season, injured shoulder ligaments in the Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid on May 26 and has not played since, keeping fans in suspense before Egypt’s first World Cup finals in 28 years.
Fans believe Egypt can’t win without Salah
“We cried with him,” said Samy Mikhail, an Egyptian Australian from Sydney who predicted that Egypt without Salah would suffer the same fate as Liverpool against Real.
“Without him, Liverpool collapsed. Egypt depends on him so much… If he gets injured again, it’s over.”
Mikhail and his nine-year-old son Luke were among several dozen Egyptians who cheered and chanted Salah’s name as the players arrived at their Yekaterinburg hotel on Wednesday evening.
Whether he plays or not, there is no doubting the commitment of the Egypt fans who have travelled from around the world to Yekaterinburg, 1,760 km (1,100 miles) east of Moscow.
“It took 44 hours to come over here,” said Mohamed Kemal from Houston, Texas. “And I am here for the team and we are going to be very loud in the stadium on Friday.”
Egypt play Uruguay, Saudi Arabi and the hosts Russia in Group A.