Mohamed Salah's fitness not exclusively at fault for Egypt's woes - Hector Cuper


We discuss the Russians' 3-1 win over Egypt and our sadness for Egyptian star Mohamed Salah during our World Cup Day 6 recap on the Planet Futbol podcast.

Russian Federation is coming off an impressive 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in its World Cup opener, while Egypt hopes to rebound from its 1-0 last-ditch loss to Uruguay in their first game of the tournament.

Hosts Russia dominated from the off in St Petersburg, but had to wait until the first minutes of the second half to take the lead through Ahmed Fathi's own goal.

The 26-year-old has scored 44 goals in a sensational first season for Liverpool and is keen to make his debut after missing the Pharaohs' 1-0 opening game loss to Uruguay with a shoulder injury.

Salah pulled a goal back for Egypt in the 72nd minute with a powerful strike from the penalty spot after the Liverpool man was fouled inside the area following a review from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Cuper opted not to use Salah for Egypt's Group A opener and the Egyptian Football Association subsequently released a statement indicating the attacker could have played, at odds with the assessment of the coach.

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What changed was midfielder Alan Dzagoev's hamstring injury 24 minutes into the opening game against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, with the score at 1-0.

"Salah is fit. In the previous match against Uruguay we thought he was fit also but we always draw up a last physical test", the former Valencia boss explained.

It looks like one of the world's best players will be leaving the World Cup early. "The only thing I can be sad for is I would have liked to have seen him present at the training ground with the team". Egypt essentially boomed the ball in his direction every chance it got in the first half, instead of settling and trying to break effectively on the counter.

Egypt's final group match will be against Saudi Arabia. Egypt poured into the box and as Salah looked to run beyond, Zhirkov tugged him back.

There was a psychological boost to be gained too, as Egyptian fans, draped in flags and coated in face paint, bounced and cheered whenever Salah's face appeared on the big screen.