YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Egypt will start without Mohamed Salah in their World Cup opener against a full-strength Uruguay on Friday, in a setback for millions of Egyptians who are pinning their tournament hopes on the Liverpool striker.
Coach Hector Cuper decided not to risk his talisman despite telling reporters on Thursday that Salah had responded well to treatment on the shoulder injury he sustained in the Champions League final last month and was nearly 100 percent certain to play in Egypt’s first appearance at the finals for 28 years.
It was not clear if he would come on as a substitute or whether Cuper would save him for the later group games against Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Salah, who turned 26 on Friday, came out with other players to inspect the pitch in Yekaterinburg. However, he was missing from the starting 11 named on the team’s official Twitter account, which showed Marwan Mohsen leading the attack.
Goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, 45, missed out on the chance to become the oldest man to play in the World Cup finals, with Cuper naming Mohamed El-Shenawy in his place.
Uruguay sprang no surprises, with Diego Godin captaining the side and Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Christian Radnedge