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'We didn't want to risk further injury' - Cuper justifies Salah absence after Uruguay reverse

9:12 PM IST 15/06/18
MoSalah - cropped
The Liverpool star was missed in a narrow reverse on Friday, but his coach wants him in top condition against Russia and Saudi Arabia

Hector Cuper says playing Mohamed Salah against Uruguay was not worth the risk with two key Group A games remaining at the World Cup.

A blunt Pharaohs side were beaten on their return to the World Cup, as Jose Gimenez's 90th-minute header belatedly gave Uruguay reward for their dominance in Ekaterinburg.

And while Cuper acknowledged that the lack of a clinical touch in the final third cost Egypt, he preferred not play Salah - despite earlier suggesting he would - in order to ensure he will be available for the coming matches against Russia and Saudi Arabia.

"The decision is always taken by myself and the staff - especially in the case of Mo," Cuper told a news conference.

"We were quite certain in the training session that he would be able to play. At the end of the training session, he was examined by the doctors and there was some doubt.

"If he fell or was hit by another player, we thought he might get another injury. We wanted to avoid any further injury. The odds were important.

"We decided not to take that risk. We want to be sure we can have him on top form against Russia and Saudi Arabia."

Cuper preferred not to speculate about how Salah's presence might have affected the result, though.

He said: "Mo Salah is an extremely important player for us. That's beyond any shadow of a doubt - nobody can deny that.

"But I need to stress that you need to have good players but also a good team. I think Egypt are a good team.

"Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch, the outcome would have been different. But we don't know that. He has contributed a great deal to the team and will in future matches."