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Egypt striker Mohamed Salah is ready to play against Russia

By Sportswriter Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Egypt striker Mohamed Salah looks set to finally make his World Cup bow when his side faces hosts Russia on Tuesday.

Jose Gimenez’s injury time goal for Uruguay broke Egyptian hearts in their opening game on Friday, and with Uruguay set to play a Saudi Arabia team who lost their opener 5-0 to Russia, defeat against the hosts will probably mean the end of Egypt’s World Cup adventure almost before it has begun.

Salah, who scored 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season and netted 70 percent of all Egypt’s goals in qualifying, watched the Russia game from the dugout as he completed his recovery from the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final just over three weeks ago, but Egypt’s team manager Ihab Leheta confirmed on Sunday that Salah would face the hosts.

"Salah participated in training with his teammates for the entire session and he is ready to play against Russia, according to technical staff," he said.

Leheta added that Salah had not asked to play against Uruguay, but stressed the importance of Tuesday’s game.

"The Russia game will be difficult because of our defeat against Uruguay.

"Winning is our only option."

These words may have to be taken with a note of caution, however, as just before the game against Uruguay, Egypt coach Hector Cuper told the press his star player was "almost 100 percent certain of playing" in that game as well.

One player who will certainly miss out on Tuesday is Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who limped out of his team’s thrashing of Saudi Arabia with a hamstring injury that will also keep him out of Russia’s final group game against Uruguay.


Iran international calls Nike withdrawal "disrespectful"

By Sportswriter Hassan Rouhvand TEHRAN Iran (Xinhua) -- Iran international Alireza Jahanbakhsh criticized American brand Nike following his team’s 1-0 win against Morocco in their World Cup Group B opener on Friday.

The sportswear company withdrew the Iranian squad’s supply of boots earlier this week owing to U.S.-led sanctions against Iran ahead of the tournament in Russia.

"To be honest, we didn’t care actually. What they have done is a little bit disrespectful," Jahanbakhsh told Iranian media.

"In my opinion, and we spoke with the other players in the team as we had a meeting about this, politics has nothing to do with sport and with football, such a beautiful game.

"You don’t have to involve this kind of thing with this game," he added.

"That is something that unfortunately this brand did and it’s their responsibility to do such a thing, but the image they have projected, at least for 80 million people in Iran, is not a really nice image."

Iran won their opening match after Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal shortly before the final whistle to give Carlos Queiroz’s team three points and top spot in Group B, after Portugal and Spain played out a 3-3 draw later on Friday.



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