Egypt’s wait to see Mohamed Salah play at the World Cup continues after the forward was left on the bench for his side’s defeat to Uruguay.
The Liverpool star watched from among the substitutes as his nation were beaten late on courtesy of a towering header from José Giménez in the 90th minute.
Salah had been tipped to feature in some capacity having recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the Champions League final and subsequently returned to training.
Manager Hector Cuper even claimed he was almost ‘100%’ certain of his talisman being ready to feature, although did hint that it would be down to Salah himself to make the final decision.
He had told ESPN: “I can almost 100 percent say he will play, save for any unforeseen factors at the last minute.”
“We’re trying to make him feel confident. The doctors are giving him the options to play or not. I know Salah very well, he’s not fearful, we always know we’re running a risk when playing a match, that’s something we can’t hide.”
The choice to keep him on the bench was perceived by most as a logical one with arguably more important Group A games against Saudi Arabia and Russia still to come.
Regular glances from the camera men at Salah on the bench were met with a thunderous reaction from Egyptian fans, typifying not only his hero status but also the hopes of a nation that rest on his shoulders.
Egyptians have evidently taken Liverpool to their hearts since Salah’s arrival on Merseyside, with their growing allegiance likely to rise significantly on Premier League fan base by Unibet.
Travelling supporters have even been captured producing a rendition of the infectious Salah song that so often serenaded him during his first season at Liverpool.
QUALITY: Egypt fans in Russia..
— TheRealCasuals (@Real_Casuals_66) June 13, 2018
Giménez’s late strike proved a cruel end to a game Egypt undoubtedly deserved a point from after an admirable effort in the absence of their star man.
A sluggish Luis Suarez set the tone for an unconvincing performance from a team tipped as dark horses of the competition.
In two of his biggest moments, the former Liverpool man squandered a simple chance from close range in the first half, before taking too many touches after being sent through on goal following the interval.
Were it not for Uruguay’s authority at the back, Egypt may have been afforded the opportunities to reward their industry with all three points.
As for Salah, he will be eyeing up a return to the starting lineup when Egypt face Russia on Tuesday evening.
Despite putting five past Saudi Arabia in their opener, the hosts remain on the brink of turmoil with mounting pressure looming over them following a miserable run up to the tournament.
Their opener served as an encouraging insight into the damage Salah is capable of causing to two disjointed defensive setups.
To have Salah back would be a monumental boost to a team that arguably defied expectations as a team missing its best player.