Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has called on their fans to support the entire team and not specific players at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The 29-year-old, who features for Liverpool in the Premier League, has been under the spotlight since the 33rd edition of the competition kicked off on January 9, as he has only managed one goal from the opening three matches.
After losing their Group D opener 1-0 against Nigeria, the Pharaohs recovered to beat Guinea-Bissau 1-0 with Salah notching the all-important goal, before they ended their group phase campaign with a 1-0 win against Sudan.
This is a contrast performance from Salah, who heading into the competition, had managed 16 Premier League goals from 20 appearances for Liverpool and is currently the top scorer.
Salah feels the spotlight being directed at him by fans and the media should also be directed to other players in the national team, insisting Egyptian football is currently divided and could get worse in the future.
“I’m 100% happy with the players and I don’t think I spoke badly about anyone or vice versa. I try as much as possible to pass on the experience that I got playing abroad and help the national team,” Salah told reporters ahead of Egypt’s Round of 16 clash against Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
“I feel that sometimes there are those who are waiting for any excuse to talk about Salah or other players, unfortunately, we live in the era of social media and the national team’s popularity has decreased. People support clubs and fans support players.
“It was not like that before and Egyptian football is now divided. We saw pages created for specific players or clubs, made only to defend them. They think that this is a good thing, but it is not.
“It’s definitely not helpful, you won’t hurt Mohamed Salah because I’ve been through things like that, but it will definitely hurt younger players.
“I don’t come to the national team in order to harass someone or to speak to anyone in a press conference. I have one piece of advice, if you think that I have succeeded abroad, don’t support a particular player or a particular club, for example, Al Ahly fans don’t only talk about Al Ahly players or Zamalek fans don’t only talk about their players.”
Salah also explained what he thinks Egypt should do to win matches.
“We are the Egyptian national team, and in order for us to win, each player must feel that the fans are behind the team,” Salah continued.
“This won’t affect Mohamed [Salah], because I have been playing international football for ten years, but there are other players who just joined for the first time, and they are, God willing, the future of this team.
“This is my advice to people and I don’t mean to attack anyone, as it’s not in my interest to do so. I hope that you will support the national team as it was in the past.
“If you love Egypt and the Egyptian national team, you should support the team and not a specific player. You harm the player and make him feel that he’s more important than the team, and this is not true. There is no player more important than the team, whether it’s me or anyone else.
“Also, my message to people in the TV studios is that I hope you can talk about the entire team and not one or two individuals. I don’t follow these shows, but there are those who follow and are affected by them.
“Keep supporting the team until the end of the tournament and then talk about each player. There are players who didn’t play in the last Africa Cup of Nations, if you want the team to win, everyone must unite.”
Egypt will face the Elephants at at Stade Omnisport de Douala.