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Egypt say Mo Salah is fit (again) ahead of clash with World Cup hosts

However, the Liverpool star will have to pass a fitness test.

Image: Dmitri Lovetsky

MOHAMED SALAH HAS been declared fit ahead of Egypt’s crunch game against Russia tomorrow.

Despite being rated as ‘almost 100% likely’ to play against Uruguay, Salah remained an idle spectator as the Pharaohs narrowly lost their opener to Uruguay, but coach Hector Cuper reiterated the positive notes about his star four days later.

“Salah is fit,” Cuper said today. “We always carry out a last physical test before naming the line-up.

“Today we will have a test for him to see how he is. I hope he will be fit to play, I’m sure he will be able to play. He is a central piece in our team.”

Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov, however, says Russia have a plan to thwart Salah, even if he is available.

“The level he will be playing at only he and his coach knows but we have a mission and we will accomplish the mission,” Cherchesov said.

“I trust in my team, I believe in my players and I will give you a simple answer: we are ready to do this and we will do this.”

The bold promise highlights a new swagger that had been missing from the host nation’s team for much of the past year.

Russia’s convincing win over Saudi Arabia was preceded by a seven-match winless streak and a spate of injuries that wiped out almost the entire defensive line. But the men in red are now on the cusp of making their first knockout stage of a World Cup in post-Soviet history.

The achievement would be a huge relief for both players and Russians who worried about being humiliated on the world’s biggest sporting stage.

Standing in their way could be Salah, but his availability has been a headache for Egypt ever since he injured his shoulder during a tussle with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos during the Champions League final last month.

(SP)RUSSIA-MOSCOW-2018 WORLD CUP-OPENING MATCH-RUSSIA VS SAUDI ARABIA Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Ramos was accused of deliberately hurting Salah and it has been suggested opponents could target him again, particularly if his shoulder is not fully healed.

“I saw only that Ramos was holding the cup,” Cherchesov said. “He did not do this on purpose, this is a contact sport, and as I understand it nobody injures people from other teams on purpose.

Salah will get better and bring happiness to fans of Egypt. Players like him only make tournaments better.”

Russia’s veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said he would rather focus on winning than any particular opposing player.

“Would I prefer to see Salah play or not? I do not even know how to respond,” said Akinfeev. “I would prefer to see my team win.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s early success has seen the number of Russians who say they will follow football rise from 52% to 64 %, according to one poll.

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