Liverpool winger, Mohammed Salah had already planned long ago to miss next month’s international friendly against Nigeria, and his name missing in The Pharaohs’ squad list is only a confirmation of a statement by his country’s football federation vice-president, Ahmed Shobier.
It was at the start of this month that Shobier stated categorically that Salah will not be included in the Egyptian squad to face the Eagles at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, in order to accord him time to concentrate on his club’s EPL title aspirations.
The Egypt Football Federation (EFF) top shot affirmed way back then that Salah would not be invited for the team’s last match in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Niger Republic, which will be followed by the friendly against Nigeria in the Delta State capital.
Shobier hinted that The Pharaohs coach, Javier Aguirre would have the liberty to try out some fringe players, since the north Africans, who are now to host the 2019 AFCON this summer, had already qualified with a match to spare, ahead of their visit to Niger Republic on March 22.
Four days later, the Egyptians will lock horns with the Eagles, as both teams begin preparations for the continental soccer showpiece, ahead of which Shobier says subsequent matches would involve Salah and the main squad, in the countdown to hosting the championship once again.
Heading into the last round of qualifiers, Egypt lead Group J on higher goal difference than second-placed Tunisia, as they are both tied on 12 points from five matches while Niger Republic trail with eight points in third position, and eSwatini stand last on the log in fourth.
Shobier’s hint was confirmed on Tuesday, when Aguirre listed 25 players for Egypt’s fixtures, with Salah and injured defender, Ahmed Hegazi top of a litany of Europe-based stars missing from the roster.
Before then, Shobier had predicted on February 6: “Mohamed Salah will not play the Niger game in the AFCON qualifiers or the Nigeria friendly. Ahmed Hegazi will probably also be left out of the squad.”