Egypt head coach Hector Cuper has categorically stated that fitness issues troubling star man Mohamed Salah is not to be blamed for his team’s poor showing at the World Cup in Russia.
Liverpool forward Salah suffered a shoulder injury in a collision with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos during the Champions League final last month.
The injury ruled him out of the Pharaohs’ World Cup preparations and he recently returned to training just before their opening match against Uruguay which he missed.
The former AS Roma and Chelsea player featured for 90 minutes and was on target from the spot but he could not prevent his team from bowing out of the tournament with a 3-1 loss to hosts Russia on Tuesday night.
When asked if Salah’s injury woes affected the team after the Russia game, Hector Cuper said: “Nobody can argue about Salah’s importance to the team and we’ve been worried since he got injured and it would have been preferable to have had him at our training camp in the build-up to the tournament.”
“But obviously we couldn’t do that, as the priority was to get him fit again.
“When we talk about him being 100 percent fit, I have to go with my medical team, and with the player, who said he could play. I was also convinced he was in optimal shape.
“It’s hard to say what would have happened if he was on top form but I always say that behind one or two brilliant players there has to be a team.” He concluded.
The Egyptians more than held their own against the home team only to capitulate to goals from captain Ahmed Fathi (own goal), Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba.
On the capitulation, former Inter Milan manager Cuper said: “We had a good first half but then we had 10-15 really bad minutes and that’s why we lost. We did not defend well.”
“I don’t think it was a lack of concentration. Nobody can be distracted playing at a World Cup. Sometime mistakes happen.” He added.