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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Salah is not a selfish player – Egypt manager Aguirre

17:26 BST 25/06/2019
Aguirre and Salah
The Pharaohs boss defended the Liverpool star in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, before the hosts slug it out with DR Congo on Wednesday

Egypt manager Javier Aguirre has stood up for star player Mohamed Salah, following the criticism he’s come under since their Africa Cup of Nations opener on Friday.

A Mahmoud "Trezeguet" Hassan strike sealed their 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the tournament’s curtain raiser, but the Pharaohs were unimpressive for large periods of the fixture.

Their talisman, Salah, was largely kept quiet by Warriors left-back Divine Lunga during the game, and has had his performance decried by critics.

Aguirre, speaking on Tuesday, took exception to the assumption that the Liverpool man is greedy and looks only after his self-interest on the pitch.

"Salah works hard with team spirit and is very committed. He is not playing selfishly as some people say,” Aguirre told the media.

“There isn't any problem at all. Salah is a very important player for the Egypt team, like Cedric Bakambu is for Democratic Republic of Congo, but we also have other players who can reach the goal and score like what happened with Mahmoud Trezeguet against Zimbabwe."

The Mexican boss further stressed his side’s readiness for Wednesday’s game against the Warriors, but is wary of the threat posed by Florent Ibenge’s troops.

"The team is ready for DR Congo and everything is okay, as all players are fit for the game," the Mexican coach explained.

"Our opponent is a very strong team. We have watched many of their matches and today there will be another analysis session. Our main target is to win and secure qualification for the next round."

Egypt and DR Congo – who suffered a 2-0 defeat against Uganda – were slated for their displays in the first round of games, but Aguirre believes their performances will improve as the competition progresses, starting from Wednesday.

"I am not worried about the harmony between my players as it will increase by playing more matches,” he asserted.

"We deliver good matches and the performance will be better in upcoming games.

"I expect that both teams (Egypt and DR Congo) will be better in tomorrow's match, as the main target of both of them is to win, with Egypt looking to secure qualification while the opponent wants to revive hopes of proceeding to next round."

The host nation will aspire to continue their unblemished record by securing maximum points against the Central African nation on Wednesday.

Aguirre’s side will then face Uganda in their final group game on June 30.