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Afcon 2021: Salah tastes defeat just like an ‘ordinary person’ – Egypt coach

3:15 am AEDT 8/2/22
Sadio Mane of Senegal and Egypt captain Mohamed Salah.
The Pharaohs were on the losing side in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal

Mohamed Salah may be a world-class player on the pitch, according to Egypt assistant coach Diyaa El-Sayed, but he experienced Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final defeat by Senegal just like an ‘ordinary person’.

The Pharaohs were defeated 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 draw at the Stade d’Olembe Yaounde this weekend, with Salah watching on as his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane netted the winning penalty in the shootout.

Salah and his Egypt teammates cut disconsolate figures at the full-time whistle, with many of the squad—including the Anfield hero—having been part of the Pharaohs side that was defeated by Cameroon in Libreville in the 2017 final.

“Salah is a great world-class player, but his attitude is the attitude of an ordinary person,” assistant coach El-Sayed, standing in for Carlos Queiroz, told GOAL. “When you lose you have the feelings of loss, and that’s what we felt [on Sunday].

“We were determined, determined to win, keen to participate and succeed,” El-Sayed continued. “He’s played in major European competitions and won many honours, but he really wanted to win this cup for the country.”

Salah enjoyed his moments in the tournament—notably his winner against Guinea-Bissau and his decisive contributions in the comeback triumph over Morocco—but struggled to influence proceedings during the final.

“We now want to qualify for the World Cup with him,” El-Sayed continued. “Salah is like any other captain of any other team, and he’s really disappointed, because he really wanted to achieve his goal in this competition.”

Egypt’s lack of a goal threat beyond their captain—Salah was directly involved in three of their four goals—surely affected their ability to get over the line in the Nations Cup, although defensively, it was hard to fault their efforts during the competition.

“Queiroz is renewing our team,” El-Sayed added, “as we’re getting to the level we want.

“We have a lot of trust and confidence in our team, and we want to cross the next stage and get to the World Cup.”

Despite playing 120 minutes in all four of their knockout-stage matches, and losing both Ahmed Hegazy and Mohamed El-Shenawy, the Pharaohs only conceded once across over 480 minutes of football—Sofiane Boufal’s penalty for Morocco in the quarter-final.

Egypt and Senegal will cross paths once again in the upcoming World Cup playoffs for Africa next month, with the two Afcon finalists having been pitted against one another to battle for a place in Qatar.