By Sibusiso Masilela | 2018-10-12
(In Cairo, Egypt, courtesy of Inyatsi Construction)
SOCCER – SIHLANGU seMnikati and the Pharaohs of Egypt will be aiming to take a step towards 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification when the two sides meet at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo this evening.
Egypt coach Javier Aguirre has confirmed that Mohamed Salah will play against Eswatini in the match, denying reports that he intends to leave him out. Reports emerged over the past few days claiming that Liverpool had made a request to the Mexican coach to drop Salah from this game in order to give him a much-needed break at this time of the season.
“He has showed a great will to play for his country and you will see him on the pitch tomorrow,” the 59-year-old tactician told the press yesterday. The Liverpool winger only joined the team on Wednesday despite arriving in Egypt on Monday, but he submitted a request to join the camp later for “personal matters.” “He is fine and in good form. He is a very important player for us, he scored two goals and assisted in two others against Niger,” Aguirre added. The 26-year-old winger – who enjoyed a blistering season in the Premier League, scooping the player of the year and top scorer awards – is not firing on all cylinders right now and seems under pressure to deliver. “Salah is fit and we all need to stand by him to do what we expect him to do,” Egypt’s captain Ahmed Elmohamady said. Aguirre stressed that the Pharaohs aim to beat Eswatini in the double-header to secure the qualification to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
“I know that on paper we are stronger than our opponents, but winning games needs effort and work and determination on the pitch, it is not made by history or the colours of the jersey you wear.
I hope we can produce a strong performance in front of our supporters in Cairo,” he concluded.
The Pharaohs are second in Group J with three points, three behind leaders Tunisia. They need to win the double header against Eswatini today and on Tuesday to secure their ticket to next year’s elite competition in Cameroon.
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