Egyptian Federation denies alleged refusal of Salah to be substituted

After rumors circulated that the Liverpool winger had refused to be substituted at the end of his national team's match against Guinea-Bissau

Egyptian Federation denies alleged refusal of Salah to be substituted
Photo Source: Getty Images

The Egyptian Football Federation denied on Wednesday reports suggesting that Mohamed Salah refused to be substituted at the end of the national team's match against Guinea-Bissau (1-1) in the African qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

The Liverpool winger started for the Egyptian national team, and after former Sporting and Desportivo das Aves player Mama Baldé opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Salah equalized the match in the 70th minute, playing the full 90 minutes.

Closer to the final whistle, according to match reports, the Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan had two players warming up to come on, Mostafa Fathi and Nasser Maher, but only Maher was brought on, leading to speculation that Salah had refused to come off for Fathi.

In response, the Egyptian Football Federation issued a statement completely denying this allegation. "There is absolutely no truth to the rumors that Mohamed Salah refused to leave the pitch. Salah was not going to be substituted in the first place. Hossam Hassan was satisfied with only bringing on Nasser Maher," the statement read.

This statement aimed to quell any unrest or misunderstanding among fans and media, ensuring that the focus remained on the team's performance and their path to qualification.

With four matches played (out of ten), Egypt leads Group A in the African qualification for the 2026 World Cup with ten points. They are followed by Guinea-Bissau (six), Burkina Faso (five), Sierra Leone (five), Ethiopia (three), and Djibouti (one).

The Egyptian team's strong start in the qualifiers has positioned them well for a potential World Cup berth, driven by key performances from their star player, Salah. The draw against Guinea-Bissau, while not an ideal result, kept Egypt at the top of the group standings, maintaining their momentum in the campaign.

Coach Hossam Hassan’s decisions during the match, including the substitution strategy, were part of a broader plan to manage player fatigue and maintain team cohesion. The clarification provided by the Egyptian Football Federation was crucial in maintaining team morale and public trust, especially given the high stakes of World Cup qualification.

The speculation around Salah’s substitution highlighted the intense scrutiny and pressure on top players and coaching staff during crucial qualification matches. As Egypt continues its journey towards securing a spot in the 2026 World Cup, the focus remains on strategic gameplay, team unity, and capitalizing on the talents of key players like Salah to achieve their goals.

The upcoming matches in the qualifiers will be critical for Egypt as they aim to secure their position at the top of Group A. The team's performance and ability to handle pressure in these matches will be pivotal in determining their success in the road to the World Cup.