Mohamed Salah witnesses crazy AFCON drama unfold as Egypt progress in last-gasp scenes


Liverpool star Mohamed Salah witnessed a crazy end to Egypt’s final Africa Cup of Nations group game on Monday evening as his side progressed to the knockout stages despite conceding a 99th minute equaliser against Cape Verde. The blockbuster star was sidelined for the match after injuring his hamstring during his country’s draw with Ghana last Thursday but was in attendance to cheer on his team-mates.

Salah was brought off at the midway point of his country’s stalemate with Ghana and is set to return to Liverpool to receive treatment. Egypt are hoping the winger will be fit to return to the squad later in the tournament, although his agent Ramy Abbas has admitted that the injury is “more serious than first thought”.

Before heading back to England, Salah watched on as Egypt took on group leaders Cape Verde, who had won their opening two matches of the tournament. The Pharaohs began the night in second place in Group B with two points after drawing 2-2 with Mozambique and 2-2 with Ghana. And, incredibly, they made it three 2-2 draws in a row against Cape Verde.

The table toppers went ahead in stoppage time at the end of the first half as Gilson Tavares found the back of the net. Egypt drew level through Mahmoud Trezeguet five minutes after the interval and thought they had won the match in the 93rd minute as Mostafa Mohamed lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Vozinha.

Salah faced an anxious wait at the side of the pitch as Mohamed’s strike was checked by VAR for handball. But after the goal was awarded, Salah could be seen jumping up and down as he cheered the strike. Salah’s No. 10 Egypt shirt was also held aloft by his team-mates on the pitch as a tribute to the injured player.

Egypt soon thought they had blown their chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds, however, as Cape Verde snatched a share of the spoils at the death as Bryan Teixeira struck. But the drama continued as Ghana had allowed a 2-0 lead to slip in the other match of the evening as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Mozambique.

And after the late chaos in both matches, Egypt discovered they had secured second place in their group. Salah’s team finished with three points from three games, while Ghana and Mozambique only accumulated two points. The Black Stars will qualify for the round of 16 if they are one of the four best third-place finishers, but that currently looks unlikely.

On Sunday night, the Egyptian FA released a statement that read: “After additional examinations were conducted on Mohamed Salah during the last hours, and after communication between the national team’s medical staff and his counterpart at Liverpool FC, it was decided that the player will return to England after the Cape Verde match tomorrow to complete his treatment, with the hope that he will join the national team in the semi-final of the AFCON if we qualify.”

But on Monday, Abbas explained: “The injury is more serious than first thought. He will be out for 21 to 28 days. His best chance at participating in the current AFCON is by undergoing intensive rehabilitation in the UK and rejoining the team as soon as he is fit.”

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