Femi Solaja with agency report
Liverpool and Egypt mega star, Mohamed Salah, has been confirmed to miss the much-anticipated international friendly against the Super Eagles scheduled for March 25 in Asaba, Delta State.
Salah in the Egyptian line-up was supposed to be a boost for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s policy of using sports tourism to drive more patronage to Delta State. It is against this backdrop that the state offered to host the high-profile international friendly as well as the Seychelles dead-rubber.
The match is scheduled to hold three days after the last Group D AFCON qualifying clash with Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.
But according to UK’s Daily Mirror Thursday, Liverpool FC and Egypt Football Association (EFA) have reached an agreement to excuse the 2018 African Footballer of the Year from the inconsequential matches to enable him concentrate on The Reds’ quest to wrestle the English Premiership trophy from Manchester City in the ongoing season.
The Liverpool forward will also not be part of the Pharaohs’ last group match against Niger Republic on March 21.
Daily Mirror quoted Egyptian FA boss, Ahmed Shobier, as confirming that Salah will not be involved in the two matches. “Mohamed Salah will not play the Niger game in the AFCON qualifiers or the Nigeria friendly.”
The no-show in Asaba will come as a major boost to the 26-year old forward because he is going to have rest enough before Liverpool’s trip to Fulham on March 17 and a potentially season-defining clash against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 31.
The Reds dropped to second in the Premier League table on Wednesday after Manchester City’s win over Everton, but they have a game at hand.
After his 32-goal Premier League campaign last term Salah has again been crucial to Liverpool’s title challenge in 2018-19.
He has scored 16 goals and provided seven assists in 25 league appearances in the on going season and his combination with the duo of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane is regarded as one of the most potent in world football today.
After taking as much as eight-point lead, Liverpool have wobbled in the recent matches to surrender their the summit on goals deference to defending champions Manchester City although with a game in hand. The team is also looking to win its first league title since 1990.
They have drawn back-to-back games against Leicester City and West Ham United and need to get back to winning ways against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Given how key Salah is to Liverpool’s success, as well as the packed schedule the Reds have up to the end of the season, it will be a big boost for the Merseyside outfit that their key man will have some time off international duty for Egypt in March.