Egypt’s super striker Mohamed Salah needed help from three teammates pulling on a jersey over his injured shoulder on Saturday, according to AFP reporters at the team’s training camp. The Pharaohs’ best hope in making the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since 1990 has been having an eventful time at his team’s base camp in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Salah watched from the bench as Egypt succumbed to an 89th minute header by defender Jose Gimenez in a 1-0 loss to Uruguay on Friday. He returned to training on Saturday but was spotted employing the help of three teammates pulling on his top.
The team doctor nevertheless pronounced the Liverpool star “100 percent ready” to play in Egypt’s second match against host nation Russia in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday. But Salah at least he can take comfort in a 100-kilogramme (60 pound) birthday cake he was confronted with on his 26th birthday on Friday.
A video released by the Chechen authorities that has gone viral showed Salah leisurely walking into his hotel lobby suspecting nothing and listening to music on his headphones. He began smiling meekly and suspecting something was not right when a hotel employee shot confetti in his face.
Then Salah spotted the giant cake sitting on a lacquered table. Topped with a golden boot, the towering structure was topped with layers of candles that surely added up to more than 26. A Chechen man in a smart suit immediately ran up to Salah with a microphone in apparent expectation of a thank you speech.
Salah did not oblige while smiling shyly and profusely. Salah was well out sight by the time the cake was sliced. Egypt’s decision to make Grozny their World Cup hope has been roundly criticised by human rights groups because of the Chechen authorities’ deadly persecution of all forms of dissent.