Salah’s Egypt ousted from CAN; Nigeria beat Cameroon - GulfToday

Salah’s Egypt ousted from CAN; Nigeria beat Cameroon


Egypt’s Mohamed Salah walks in dejection at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations match against South Africa on Saturday. Associated Press

Mohamed Salah was left stunned after the hosts Egypt were ousted of the Africa Cup of Nations by South Africa in a shock defeat on Saturday. In another match, Odion Ighalo scored twice and teed up Alex Iwobi’s winning goal as Nigeria eliminated defending champions Cameroon after a thrilling 3-2 victory in Alexandria.

While Salah helped lead his club to a sixth European Cup triumph in June, a year on from an injury forcing him out of the final, he was powerless to stop the Pharaohs suffering humiliation on the international stage for the second time in 12 months.

Salah -- his mood and fitness in sharp contrast to this time last June when his shoulder was injured as he was wrestled to the ground by Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos in the 3-1 loss in the 2018 Champions League final in Kiev.

He scored twice in four matches in Cairo, both goals struck with unerring precision, but rarely looked at his peak surrounded by an Egyptian supporting cast far more limited than he is accustomed to at club level.

But Salah also, uncharacteristically, made headlines off the pitch after offering a degree of support for disgraced team-mate Amr Warda, who was banished from the squad over sexual harassment allegations only to later be recalled -- with Salah at the forefront of appeals for his reinstatement.

Salah faced a backlash from many users after saying Warda deserved a “second chance” and that “shunning is not the answer”.

Many of Salah’s fans noted his hypocritical line of argument. He has made a point of speaking up for women in the Muslim world, and in an April interview with Time magazine he vehemently defended their rights in the region.

Shouldering the weight of expectation of nearly 100 million Egyptians, hoping for a fourth title in five editions as hosts, Salah found himself a capable ally in Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, the team’s standout performer in the group stage.

But he too wilted as the pressure intensified once the tournament moved into the knockout phase, spurning Egypt’s best chance in a bitter defeat that provoked widespread dismay throughout the football-mad nation.

“I’m really sad. Nobody expected we would go out at this stage. We thought for sure our team would reach the final,” said Mohamed Alaa, a 17-year-old fan from Cairo. Amr Kamel, 23, said he was “disgusted” by the team’s abject failure.


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