Mohamed Salah was kept on the bench in Egypt’s opening World Cup defeat against Uruguay on Friday because the team did not want to risk further injury to the Liverpool star.
Salah, who turned 26 on Friday, injured his shoulder three weeks ago in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
On the eve of the Uruguay match in Yekaterinburg, which the South Americans won 1-0, Egypt coach Hector Cuper said Salah was fit, raising the Pharaohs’ hopes that he would start the Group A clash.
“He’s certainly important, nobody can deny that, but you need a good team too — and we are a good team,” said Cuper. “If Mo had been on the pitch it may have been different but we can’t know that.”
“He did not play today because we wanted to avoid risk or danger but I think that he will be fine for the next match,” said the coach.
“Yesterday we were quite certain that he would play. At the end of training, he was examined in depth and there was some doubt if he fell or was hit by another player.
“We thought perhaps he might get another injury and we want to avoid that so we decided not to take that risk.
“We want him on top form for Saudi Arabia and Russia.”