Jomo Sono: Hector Cuper was right not to utilise Mohamed Salah in Egypt's Fifa World Cup opener

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The coach who led Bafana Bafana at the 2002 Fifa World Cup says he would have kept Salah on the bench against Uruguay on Friday

With Egypt still licking their wounds after their 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup match on Friday, they will hope to have their star attacker Mohamed Salah fit and raring to go when they face Russia.

The Pharaohs are up against the hosts in their next Group A encounter on Tuesday, June 19, and they will now be under pressure to bag a win at all costs.

As coach Hector Cuper hoped to have the Liverpool star in action on Friday, Salah was benched for the full 90 minutes and former Bafana Bafana coach Jomo Sono believes that the coach's deciosion was justified.

The current Jomo Cosmos coach believes the decision taken by the Argentine manager was the right one because the 25-year-old was not 100% fit.

Salah has been sidelined for about three weeks since sustaining a shoulder injury against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final.

The injury led to doubts regarding the former AS Roma attacker’s availability for the global showpiece in Russia, but reports suggest that he is on the road to recovery.

Egypt are making their first appearance at the World Cup since 1990 and will want to do well in their next game before taking on Saudi Arabia in their final group game on Monday, 25 June.

“They were correct not to use him because using him was going to be risky. And worsening his injury, he could end up missing the entire tournament – it was right not to field him,” Sono told Goal.

“I think if I was the coach, i would have done the same because the player is not 100% and they have two games to go, so they still have a chance,” explained the legend.

“Why risk him in the first game and to keep him on the bench? This is about the future of the player and he could end up missing the (rest) tournament,” added Sono.

“I am sure he can save them in the next two games, but let me tell you, it won’t be easy against Russia,” warned ‘’Mjomana’.

“Look, it is different in the national than at Liverpool, he has so many talented players at club level like Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino and others around him who take the pressure from him and he just scores goal,” noted the coach.

“Unlike in the national team, they have average players and pressure is always on him, that makes it difficult to play without him,” acknowledged the club owner.

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“All I can say is that he will be available against Russia, but the Russians will not allow him to play, they will send someone to go with him even to the dressing room, they will want to hurt his shoulder again, that’s going to be the tactic for them because everyone is scared of Salah,” the ex-Buccaneers star asserted.

“To the fans and supporters, they must be patient and not put unnecessary pressure on Salah and the team, let’s just hope he regains his fitness in these few days towards their net game,” he concluded.

 

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