Egypt coach Vitoria says can't risk Salah against Ethiopia

Ahram Online , Thursday 7 Sep 2023

Egypt coach Rui Vitoria said he didn't want to risk playing Mohamed Salah against Ethiopia on Friday in the final round of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as the Pharaohs have already secured their ticket in next's year showdown.

Egypt s head coach Rui Vitoria. Photo: EFA official Facebook page


The clash between Egypt and Ethiopia has lost its competitive edge, as Egypt's victory over Guinea in June secured their qualification, while Ethiopia languishes at the bottom of the group with no chance of progressing.

"Mohamed Salah will rejoin the Egyptian squad after the Ethiopia match. I wanted to grant him a well-deserved rest after he played seven consecutive matches in the past 23 days. We cannot afford to take any unnecessary risks with him. Furthermore, I have strong alternatives available for the Ethiopia match, which further supports our decision to give him a break," Vitoria said during Thursday's pre-game press conference.

Although Salah will be sidelined for the Ethiopia encounter, he will be ready to participate in the friendly game against Tunisia on Tuesday.

Vitoria emphasized the team's determination to secure victory in the final qualifier match, particularly since Ethiopia won the first leg 2-0. "Our goal is to assert our team's strength, implement our distinctive style, and prevent Ethiopia from setting the game's tempo. Our players are brimming with enthusiasm, and all we need to do is execute our plans and secure the win."

The national team coach also expressed his caution regarding the lineup, as 11 players are at risk of suspension due to yellow card accumulation in the opening game of the AFCON.

Conflicts with Ahly

Vitoria addressed potential conflicts with Ahly, who have requested the early release of their players, as they are scheduled to face USM Alger in Saudi Arabia on 15 September in the African Super Cup.

"Before discussing the departure of players from the camp, it is important to note that nobody knows who will start tomorrow, and you can ask Mostafa Mohamed [sitting next to me]. We will assess the situation following the game and make our decision accordingly."

Furthermore, Vitoria raised concerns about next month's camp, which coincides with Ahly's participation in the African Football League. The Red Devils are set to face Simba in Tanzania on 20 October in the quarterfinals, with the tournament extending until 11 November. The forthcoming international break is scheduled between October 9 and 17.

"We will prioritize planning for the national team while also taking into consideration the circumstances and interests of the clubs. We must adopt an approach that serves both the national team and the clubs. It is important to remember that international breaks are not just for the team or the staff; the players have the right to represent their country. We want the players to arrive focused on the national team without any pressures from their clubs," Vitoria concluded.

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