Birthday boy Salah left on the bench for Egypt's World Cup opener

Birthday boy Salah left on the bench for Egypt's World Cup opener

Several optimistic supporters expected Salah to start for Egypt in their World Cup group opener against Uruguay on Friday afternoon but he clearly hadn't recovered from his shoulder injury and started the game on the bench.

Salah, who will celebrate his 26th birthday on the day of the game, is undoubtedly Egypt's main man despite the Liverpool's striker struggles to overcome the dislocated shoulder he sustained in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.

"I can nearly assure you 100 per cent that he will play, save unforeseen circumstances at the very last minute", Cuper said ahead of Friday's Group A match. After all the excitement of Thursday, and the overblown response to one line from Héctor Cúper in a press conference that was replete with equivocation, Mohammed Salah did not start. "And if it does turn out there's an issue at the last minute we'll consider it and see if it can be resolved". "I can nearly assure you 100% he will play, barring any unforeseen factors at the last moment".

Suarez nearly propelled the Reds to the Premier League title in 2014 but his attempts to replicate that form at the World Cup ended in controversy after a biting incident involving Italy's Giorgio Chiellini. Egypt is 45th in FIFA's rankings; Uruguay is 14th.

The game between Egypt and Uruguay could well decide who tops Group A, as Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia have significantly weaker squads. "I will be very happy for him if he plays in a dream match for him, the injury was a great shame and we all felt great solidarity for him", said the 71-year-old. He could still make his World Cup debut on Friday.

While initial reports feared the worst, Egyptian FA expressed confidence that Salah would be fit in time for the quadrennial extravaganza, bringing delight to football fans across the globe. Beyond Salah, though, there really is no other obvious outlet for the Egyptians to use that can carry a genuine threat.

Ali Gabr and Ahmed Hegazi, both of West Bromwich Albion, may be able to hold the defence up long enough.

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