Egypt skipper Salah open to critics, seeks support for national team at AFCON

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Sunday 21 Jan 2024

Egypt skipper Mohamed Salah says he is open to the critics over his recent performance with the national football team at the African Cup of Nations, stressing that all players are focused on qualifying for the next round but need the support of Egyptian fans.

Egypt s forward #10 Mohamed Salah reacts during a press conference at the palais de la Culture in Abidjan on January 21, 2024 on the eve of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Egypt and Cape Verde. Photo: AFP


The seven-time African champions, Egypt, are in a critical situation at the current AFCON after securing only two points in the group stage from two successive draws against Mozambique and Ghana.

The Pharaohs will be in a must-win situation when they face Cape Verde on Monday in the last game to continue their campaign towards their eighth African title.

“I think we know the meaning of winning the African Cup title. We weren’t lucky in the last two editions, but all players are enthusiastic enough, and we will deliver our best to beat Cape Verde first and book a place in the next round,” the 31-year-old player said in the pre-match press conference on Sunday.

“Now we just want to qualify for the round of 16. We have a good group of players, excellent coach, good vision, and we will deliver everything possible in the tournament,” he added.

Salah refused to blame the hot weather in Cote d'Ivoire for the recent results, stressing that this applies to all teams.

“The situation is strange in the current edition, especially as all teams deliver similar performances, and you can’t predict who will win. Egypt team, for example, isn’t the first or even the second of its group,” Salah explained.

 “The positive thing is scoring goals until the final minutes, and I hope this will continue with us in the next games,” the former Chelsea and AS Roma player added.

Salah also spoke about the importance of letting players play abroad at an early age because of the positive outcome on the mental level, stressing that this will have a significant impact on the development of African football.

Open to critics

Since the tournament started, the Liverpool star winger Salah came under fire for what was widely considered a below-expectations performance before receiving a blow after picking up a hamstring injury against Ghana that would sideline him for the next two games.

Salah said he isn’t worried about the critics, stressing that football is a collective game, not a personal one.

“I am open to all critics. I played in just a game and a half. Maybe I wasn't in the best shape against Mozambique, but I am here to play along with the whole team,” he explained.

“The positive thing is that we came from behind in both games and managed to secure the draw. I don’t have a specific explanation regarding performance, but football is a collective game, and the most important thing is to win the next game," Salah noted.

“This is Egypt’s national team, not Salah’s team, as I am one player in a big squad,” he added.

Salah stressed that despite the critics, he is fully focused on his target with the national team, calling for support from Egyptian fans in the coming games, especially in the presence of new players who may face difficulties playing under pressure.

“I respect all opinions, and I do not find them demeaning. We deliver our best, and at the same time, everyone is free to voice his opinion and remember that I have never replied to any of my critics before," he pointed out.

“I tell the players to play freely even in my absence since I constitute a small element in the national team’s big system. I know my value and how my teammates pass me the ball to make a difference. Therefore, I talked to them after my injury,” he added.

Salah pointed out that the national team and Liverpool will issue a joint statement on his injury within hours.

Check the AFCON matches and standings.

Check the AFCON stats.

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

Search Keywords:
Short link: