Liverpool Star Salah Fancied to Help Pharaohs Win African Cup

Reuters

Mohamed Salah may not have had as prolific a second season at Liverpool as his debut campaign, but it ended in more satisfying fashion as the Reds went one better and won the UEFA Champions League. Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield outfit – in no small part thanks to the goals of Egypt’s star forward – also pushed Manchester City all the way in the Premier League, but lost out in the title race by a single point.

The disappointment was short-lived, however, as Liverpool landed a sixth European Cup success beating fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur in the final 2-0. Salah is the only Egyptian footballer in history to win the UEFA Champions League so far. Off the back of that success, the Reds are 5/2 with bet365 in the Premier League betting for next season to end their 30-year wait for the domestic title.

Before he can start thinking about next season though, Salah is the poster boy as Egypt hosts the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the fifth time. On three of the four previous occasions this country, straddling the edge of the continent and Asia, has had this honour, they have gone on to win it. There is plenty of pressure on Salah who has almost 40 goals for the Pharaohs in just over 60 caps. It’s been another long club season for him in which he played the same number of games across all competitions (52), but only scored 61 percent (27) of the goal tally he managed in 2017-18 (44).

Bookmakers have had absolutely no hesitation in installing Egypt as 4/1 favourites for AFCON 2019. Home advantage and Salah’s presence swing it because, if using their FIFA World Ranking going into the tournament, they are only the eighth best team in Africa.

The AFCON finals are in an expanded format with 24 qualified teams taken forward for the first time. As hosts, Egypt were automatically placed in Group A where they face Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Uganda in that order.

The second match with DR Congo looks the key to this pool as the opposition are ranked nine places above the Pharaohs just inside the top 50 men’s footballing nations. Up against Salah in Congolese ranks are a smattering of English and Scottish based players. Whether that team is greater than the sum of their parts is something we’ll find out in Cairo on Wednesday, 26 June. Egypt are not a one-man team by any means either.

Defensive duo Ahmed Elmohamady and Ahmed Hegazi suffered different fortunes in the EFL Championship play-offs with Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, respectively. Arsenal holding midfielder Mohamed Elneny is another established Pharaohs international.

Salah has almost scored as many international goals as the entire rest of Egypt’s preliminary squad for the AFCON finals put together. He is the key threat in attack and, of all the players at the tournament, only Ghana’s veteran striker Asamoah Gyan has scored more for his country, so Egypt will be heavily reliant on him to fire them to glory. But if Salah can recreate his form for Liverpool then they have a strong chance of achieving that.

WE SAID THIS: Will Egypt win the African Cup a record eighth time? Also, don’t miss 10 Arabs Named in France Football List of “Best African Players in History”

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