ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Despite his injury and Egypt’s underwhelming start to the Africa Cup of Nations, Mohamed Salah is still convinced he will win the tournament “sooner or later.”
The two-time African player of the year has never won the Africa Cup, coming closest at the last edition and in 2017 when Egypt lost in the final on both occasions.
“I’ve won everything possible but this is the one I did not, yet,” the Liverpool star said Sunday. “It will happen somehow. That’s what I believe. And whatever I believe, I achieve. So, it will happen. Sooner or later, it will happen.”
To make sure Egypt advances to the knockout stage of the current edition in Ivory Coast, the “Pharaohs” on Monday first need to beat Group B winner Cape Verde – and without the injured Salah.
Salah has a hamstring injury from Egypt’s 2-2 draw with Ghana and is expected to sit out two games.
“We’re not doing great at the moment, but we are a fantastic team, we have a great coach. So we just need to stay focused and have a good vision and be positive. And I believe with the hard work, everything will be possible,” Salah said.
Egypt has won more Africa Cup titles than any other country but Salah said the team was determined to extend its record to eight trophies.
“I think everybody knows what it means to any player to win the Africa Cup. We’re always proud to wear that shirt,” Salah said. “We were unlucky at the last one, the one in Gabon (in 2017) also, a bit unlucky. I think the players are very motivated to win the tournament. We all want to win it.”
Egypt is not the only pre-tournament favorite to be struggling to reach the knockout stage. Also in Group B, Ghana needs a win against Mozambique to maintain its hopes of progressing. The top two in each group advance to the last 16, while the best four third-placed finishers in each group also progress.
Host nation Ivory Coast and Nigeria face anxious games Monday against Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, respectively, in Group A.
Cameroon, Algeria and Tunisia are among the potential title candidates struggling.
“It’s really tricky,” said Salah, who noted that improving standards were making games more unpredictable.
“I think the African football is improving a lot. You also saw at the World Cup, we went so far with Morocco and the whole of Africa was behind them. So I think it’s improving a lot.”
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