Egypt manager Rui Vitoria has criticised Jurgen Klopp for commenting on Mohamed Salah’s injury before their Africa Cup of Nations clash with Cape Verde, saying he ‘didn’t think it was right’ for the Liverpool head coach to get involved.
Salah, undoubtedly one of the main attractions of this year’s AFCON, was forced off with a muscle problem in the first half of Egypt’s 2-2 draw with Ghana in Group B last Thursday.
And while Egypt have moved to play down the severity of their talisman’s leg injury, the 31-year-old forward was forced to watch on as his team-mates drew with Cape Verde in Abidjan to qualify for the last 16 on Monday night.
Speaking to the media ahead of the crucial AFCON encounter, Klopp confirmed that Salah would return to Merseyside to undergo treatment, with the attacker planning to jet out to the Ivory Coast again should his country progress to the knockout stages.
‘That’s the plan, if that’s already decided 100 per cent, I don’t know but that’s the plan,’ the Liverpool head coach said after his team’s 4-0 defeat of Bournemouth.
‘However long he’s out, I think, probably everyone sees this, it makes sense that he does rehab with us or our people, that’s the plan. If that’s written in stone already, I don’t know.’
Asked if he has spoken to Salah, Klopp replied: ‘Yes, directly after but since the night it happened he’s in contact our doctor and the doc tells me the news. I think he will be back.’
Salah’s injury was, unsurprisingly, among the main topics of conversation in the wake of Egypt’s qualification for the last 16, with an entire nation seemingly on tenterhooks awaiting fitness updates.
Egypt boss Vitoria had been hesitant to discuss Salah’s issue prior to kick-off but confirmed the attacker’s injury was more serious than he first thought as he spoke to the media at his post-match press conference.
‘I want to take this opportunity to clarify things,’ Vitoria told reporters.
‘Mohamed Salah has an injury, which we learned before this game was a longer-term injury than we first thought, so we have had to prolong the amount of time before he can play again.”
‘Before the game we did not want to say anything. Meanwhile, everything was in the control of our excellent medical team.
‘Given we were going to have to travel, given the temperatures, given that we were going to be going to a different city, maybe it makes sense that Salah should have a place he can go to recover as quickly as possible.’
Vitoria was clearly less than impressed that Klopp had discussed Salah’s fitness – and confirmed his impending return to Liverpool – ahead of such a ‘tremendously important’ match for Egypt.
‘We didn’t want to alarm anyone. I didn’t think it was right for Liverpool, via any intermediary, to speak about this, because we had a tremendously important game today,’ Vitoria added.
‘Salah has always been with us. Now this game is over we will find the best solution for the treatment of the player.
‘These are the facts. This is the situation.’
According to Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas, the Liverpool superstar could be sidelined for at least three weeks which would rule him out of the remainder of Egypts AFCON campaign.
This would also mean Salah could miss as many as many as seven games for Liverpool, including their trip to Premier League title rivals Arsenal on February 4.
Egypt, meanwhile, will face the nation that finishes second in Group F – likely without their star man and captain – after sealing their spot In the last 16.