I’m here in Russia to play the World Cup: Mo Salah

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For Egypt, Mo Salah is an interstellar star, such is his brilliance. He captured the world’s imagination with 44 goals for Liverpool. Yet, it was his clash with Sergio Ramos and subsequent injury that made most news…
Too excited to be part of a World Cup. It’s a dream come true for all the footballers to play in the World Cup. We shall be playing a World Cup after 1990, so we will be delighted more to take the team through to the final phase.
There was an unfortunate incident in the Champions League final, and there were talks that you might miss the World Cup…
Well, that was unfortunate. However, the best part is, I’m here in Russia to play the World Cup. That is the most important thing. It would have been really difficult if I could not make it after we qualified. Thank God, he has given me the opportunity to be a part of the World Cup and live my dream.
You are with the hosts Russia in the same group along with Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. How realistic are you to go through?
Without thinking much about the qualification to the knockout, we should concentrate on playing at our best at the highest stage. We have prepared well and should be able to execute that in those three matches. If we can do so, the rest will be taken care of. But it is equally important to enjoy the occasion and have fun.
Your first match will be against Uruguay, one of those nations with higher ambitions in the tournament…
Twice they have been the World Champions and they were the semifinalists in 2010, too. They have great players like Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani. What we have known from their games is, they like to play a tight game, do not allow the opponent free space. It will be a tough game. But we shall be prepared. And if we can score, it will be difficult for them to break our defence, too.
Critics are of the opinion that you will be one of the star attractions of the World Cup with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Andres Iniesta…
All these footballers are legends. I am yet to reach their level in terms of international success and stardom. By the grace of God, I have started my journey in professional European football and want to continue doing that for some years. But these stars have already established themselves as alltime greats. Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar will go all out to win the Cup while Iniesta will try to add another with the crown he had won in 2010. I shall be making my World Cup debut. You just cannot name me in the same bracket with these living legends!
In your final qualifying group, you faced Ghana, who were favourites to reach Russia…
We played well to beat them in our country and drew the away match. That helped us to top the group and qualify. It was a tough group with Uganda and Congo. We only lost against Uganda and secured our place among the final 32 in Russia.
Which teams are favourites to win the Cup in Russia?
First of all, we are too busy with ourselves before the World Cup. Secondly, there is no point in predicting since you can play well, but that cannot guarantee you anything in a World Cup. However, the big teams will be eager to prove their worth again.
This will be the third World Cup for Egypt and incidentally, the other two times were in Italy (1934 and 1990). And Italy will not be there in Russia!
It’s sad for the football fans of Italy. They are one of the giants in world football. Their fans will miss the tournament. Same can be said about the fans of Chile and the Netherlands. But our fans will try their best to make the tournament as colourful as possible. Since we shall be there after 28 years, their joys will know no bounds.

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