Egypt needs a win, or a draw and help from other results when they play Cape Verde in order to advance
After two matches, Egypt’s qualification for the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations coming down to the wire. They’ll need a result in their final group stage match against Cape Verde, and that’s something that just became a lot more unlikely. On Friday, the Egyptian federation announced that captain, talisman, and superstar attacker Mohamed Salah will miss the last group stage match with a hamstring strain, and their next match as well should they advance. Salah was forced out of Egypt’s draw with Ghana, the result that put one of the pre-tournament favorites at risk of not advancing in the first place. On two points through their first two matches of the group stage, a draw against Cape Verde could be enough to see Egypt through to the knockout stages, but without Salah, there are major questions of who will put the ball in the back of the net.
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The round of 16 is scheduled for Jan. 27-30. Salah’s club, Liverpool will be watching closely as well, as that timeline would rule Salah out of their FA Cup match against Norwich City on Jan. 28 if Egypt are knocked out, though if the timetable is accurate, Salah could be available for their match against Chelsea on Jan. 31 if he’s back with his club.
Egypt will need to figure out a way to rally without their star but might have caught a break. Cape Verde have already won the group, so there is a chance that they could rotate players in the final match. An Egypt win guarantees that they’ll make to make the last 16 and a draw might be enough depending on other results. Then it’s all about finding a way to gut through into the quarterfinals where hopefully Salah would be ready to go again.