Aguirre refuses to single out Salah for praise as Egypt prepare for opening AFCON clash

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 19 Jun 2019,
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Egypt
Egypt's coach Javier Aguirre takes part in a press conference two days ahead of their opening match against Zimbabwe in the 2019 football Africa Cup of Nations on June 16, 2019 in Cairo. (AFP)

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre refused to single out Mohamed Salah for praise, preferring instead to hail the entire team before they begin their African Cup of Nations campaign against Zimbabwe on Friday.

The Mexican boss is tasked with delivering a first Nations Cup title for Egypt since they won the last of their record seven crowns in 2010.

Key to Egypt’s chances is the presence of talisman Salah, who also played an instrumental role in steering them to the 2017 Nations Cup final as well as a place in last year’s World Cup finals for the first time since 1990.

Lying third in the Pharaohs’ all-time top scorers list with 41 goals, Salah is also fresh from enjoying another stellar season with Liverpool, leading them to the European Champions League title and finishing as the joint top scorer of the Premier League for a second straight season.

When asked about what it means to have Salah in his team during a Wednesday news conference to preview the Zimbabwe clash, Aguirre’s immediate reaction was pumping his fist.

However, he opted against lavishing much praise on his prized asset.

“Mohamed Salah is a player in my team, just like the remaining 22 players,” the 60-year-old said.

“All of them are Egypt’s players,” he added, before skipper Ahmed Elmohamady took the floor to underline Salah’s importance.

“Salah is now one of the leading three players in the world. This is a very big and positive thing that will definitely help us in our quest to win the Nations Cup,” said the Aston Villa right-back, who helped his club earn promotion to the Premier League last season.

Egypt face Zimbabwe at Cairo’s International Stadium in their opening match. They will also meet Uganda and DR Congo in Group A of the expanded 24-team tournament.

“Zimbabwe deserve to be here in this tournament. We are well aware how strong they are,” Aguirre said.

“This game is very important because it’s the opener. However, this will not put us under pressure but rather make us aware of the responsibilities on our shoulders.”

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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Group A W D L P
Egypt
3 0 0 9
Uganda
1 1 1 4
DR Congo
1 0 2 3
Zimbabwe
0 1 2 1
Group B W D L P
Madagascar
2 1 0 7
Nigeria
2 0 1 6
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Burundi
0 0 3 0
Group C W D L P
Algeria
3 0 0 9
Senegal
2 0 1 6
Kenya
1 0 2 3
Tanzania
0 0 3 0
Group D W D L P
Morocco
3 0 0 9
Cote d'Ivoire
2 0 1 6
South Africa
1 0 2 3
Namibia
0 0 3 0
Group E W D L P
Mali
2 1 0 7
Tunisia
0 3 0 3
Angola
0 2 1 2
Mauritania
0 2 1 2
Group F W D L P
Ghana
1 2 0 5
Cameroon
1 2 0 5
Benin
0 3 0 3
Guinea Bissau
0 1 2 1