Too early to say if Mohamed Salah's Afcon is over, says Egypt coach

Salah replaced before half time after clutching his left thigh during 2-2 draw against Ghana

Egypt's Mohamed Salah, left, leaves the field after sustaining an injury during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Egypt and Ghana in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.  (AP Photo / Themba Hadebe)
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Egypt boss Rui Vitoria said it was "too early to say" whether Mohamed Salah's Africa Cup of Nations was over after his star forward suffered a leg injury in Thursday's 2-2 draw with Ghana.

The Liverpool striker pulled up shortly before half time, sat on the field while play continued at the other end, then indicated he couldn’t continue when the team’s medical staff went to treat him. He appeared to hold the back of his left thigh.

“Of course, we are worried and we hope it is not too serious,” said Vitoria after seeing his side draw a second successive game that leaves their hopes of reaching the knockout stages in the balance.

Salah did not stop to speak to journalists in the mixed zone after the game, though he smiled and seemed able to walk without difficulty.

"We don't know yet what is the problem. I hope not a big problem ... It is too early to say something," added Vitoria.

"Salah is an amazing player, one of the best players in the world, so we want to have this kind of player always with us."

Salah's stoppage-time penalty spared Egypt from a shock loss to Mozambique in their opening game, and the Pharaohs were up against it once more against a much-improved Ghana side.

The Black Stars, who were stunned 2-1 by Cape Verde to begin the competition, took the lead after Salah's injury when Mohammed Kudus hammered in a long-range shot in first-half stoppage time.

Omar Marmoush equalised before Kudus struck again, but Mostafa Mohamed ensured Egypt came away with a point as the Nantes forward netted for the second game in a row.

"The players were upset after conceding at the end of the first half ... but it's football, we changed the mindset in the second half, we went for the game with positive energy," said Vitoria.

"Not because of Salah, but because the result was not good. The reaction and commitment of the team were good, but Salah is an amazing player and we cannot forget that."

Vitoria insisted that regardless of the nature of Salah's injury his team is still capable of winning a record-extending eighth Afcon title.

"Nobody wins the title without coming through difficult games ... today we showed, mainly in the second half, the courage and quality of this team."

Egypt have yet to win a game at the Africa Cup being played in Ivory Coast. Egypt are second on two points behind group leaders Cape Verde. Cape Verde and Mozambique play their second game of the tournament on Friday. Only the top two in each group are assured of advancing to the last 16.

Updated: January 19, 2024, 4:30 AM