Mohamed Salah was left celebrating in the stands as he watched on, injured, while Egypt sealed a spot in the AFCON last 16 in dramatic fashion.
Liverpool’s No. 11 is due back on Merseyside in the coming days as he starts his rehab for a hamstring injury that his agent, Ramy Abbas Issa, states will see him out for “21-28 days.”
His final act before his departure was to watch his side face Cape Verde in the final group game on Monday evening, with Egypt’s knockout fate resting on the result.
Salah, nestled in the stands, went through a rollercoaster of emotions as he first saw Cape Verde take the lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time.
After the break, Egypt then levelled the scores just minutes after the interval, with half-time substitute Trezeguet finishing brilliantly from a tight angle.
Chaos then ensued after the clock ticked over the 90-minute mark.
Salah reacts to the winner ??? pic.twitter.com/gIupTvTy2J
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) January 22, 2024
In the third-minute of added time, Mostafa Mohamed edged Egypt into the lead with a well-timed finish over the goalkeeper’s head, after a lengthy VAR check for handball the goal was given and Salah erupted with joy in the stands.
The winger’s shirt was held aloft during the celebrations, recognition of how highly his team-mate’s regard him amid the criticism he is receiving for returning to England for treatment.
Incredibly, Cape Verde scored in the 99th minute to make it 2-2. It would have left Egypt’s qualification chances finely balanced had fellow group members Ghana not spectacularly capitulated to draw 2-2 with Mozambique.
Egypt, therefore, finished as runners-up in Group B and will now prepare for the round of 16 without Salah on Sunday.
With the 31-year-old’s injury timeline to extend up to and possibly beyond three weeks, he would only likely return to AFCON should Egypt make the final on February 11.
The earliest Salah could return to action for Liverpool, if Egypt don’t progress deep into the tournament, is likely to be for the visit of Burnley on February 10.