Africa next frontier for trophy hunter Salah
Serial goal scorer Mohamed Salah has conquered the world, Europe, and England with Liverpool. Now he dreams of leading Egypt to African glory.
He has come agonizingly close twice with
his country, being part of the teams that lost the 2017 and 2022 African
Nations Cup (Afcon) finals to Cameroon and Senegal respectively.
reaching those title deciders, hosts Egypt suffered a humiliating last-16 loss
to outsiders South Africa that left a 70,000 Cairo crowd speechless.
Egypt are among the favorites for the 2024 title in the Ivory Coast as they
seek a record-extending eighth title in the premier African sporting event.
Drawn with Ghana,
Cape Verde, and Mozambique in Group B, it is widely expected that Egypt will
finish first and qualify for the round of 16.
But captain Salah
and his Pharaohs teammates want more.
They want to play
in the Feb 11 final at the 60,000-seat Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan and
“I want to win
this competition,” said the prolific scorer in Cairo as he showed off a new
haircut following social media criticism of his scraggly locks.
“Having come so
close twice, I would love to help Egypt win the final and lift the Cup of
“I am so happy to
play in this wonderful African football tournament and my teammates and I are
desperate to succeed.
“It means a lot to
play for the Egyptian national team. It is a great feeling to put on the red jersey,
which has been worn by many greats in the past.
Salah, who arrived
at Liverpool in 2017 after spells with Al Mokawloon in his homeland, Basel,
Chelsea, Fiorentina, and Roma, is no stranger to success.
Liverpool win the Club World Cup and Uefa Champions League in 2019 and the
Premier League one year later.
In his last match
for the Reds before flying to Egypt, the 31-year-old whose full name is Mohamed
Salah Hamed Mahrous Ghaly netted twice in a 4-2 league win over Newcastle
Ghana boast the third most successful
Nations Cup record with four titles, behind Egypt (seven) and Cameroon (five),
but it is 42 years since they last triumphed.
Otto Addo, who
quit as Black Stars coach after an early 2022 World Cup exit in Qatar, turned
heads when he said the fixture against Egypt would be the easiest in the group
for his country.
Ghana are pinning
their hopes of a good run on Mohammed Kudus, an attacking midfielder who has
been outstanding for West Ham United this season.
They can also call
on the long-serving Ayew brothers – attackers Andre and Jordan – as they
attempt to banish memories of a disastrous 2022 campaign that ended in first-round elimination.