Mohamed shoulders Egypt's goal-scoring burden in Salah absence



Fri, 26 Jan 2024 - 11:32 GMT


Fri, 26 Jan 2024 - 11:32 GMT

Egypt's Mostafa Mohamed celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

Egypt's Mostafa Mohamed celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

(Reuters) - Egypt will turn to striker Mostafa Mohamed for much-needed firepower in the absence of talisman Mohamed Salah as they continue their quest for a record-breaking eighth Africa Cup of Nations title in a last-16 meeting against Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.


With Liverpool's Salah likely out for the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury, Mohamed will be entrusted with applying the finishing touch as Egypt look to book their quarter-final place in the Ivory Coast city of San Pedro.


The Nantes frontman impressed in the group stage with his three goals proving crucial in lifting Egypt to the knockout stage and making up for their defensive vulnerabilities.


He scored in all three Group B games as Egypt scraped 2-2 draws with Mozambique, Ghana and Cape Verde to advance as runners-up with an unconvincing haul of three points.


That made Mohamed the first Egyptian to score in three pool stage matches since all-time leading scorer Hossam Hassan did it in 2000.


Mohamed has displayed the attributes of a goal poacher, a quality Egypt have not seen for over a decade since the days of Amr Zaki and Emad Moteab - core members of the team that won a hat-trick of Cup of Nations titles between 2006 and 2010.


Since then, Egypt have mainly relied on Salah and other wingers for firepower, but Mohamed's red-hot form suggests the team may have finally found the classic target man they have been looking for.


"Egypt needed a striker like Mostafa Mohamed," former captain Ahmed Hassan, who won an Egypt record 184 international caps, told Reuters.


"We've missed this kind of a physical, goal-scoring striker for a long time, particularly since the days of Hossam Hassan, Amr Zaki and Emad Moteab."


Although Mohamed was a regular starter when Egypt reached the final two years ago, he failed to find the net and was held back by having to drop deep to carry out defensive tasks.


The 26-year-old entered the ongoing tournament amid a fine goal-scoring run with Nantes, for whom he has scored six goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances this season.


Hassan, now a television pundit, said Mohamed can get even better if he is not assigned defensive duties.


"Mohamed has made a very good progress, especially after his move to the French league. However, Egypt have not yet taken full advantage of his capabilities," he said.


"If he focuses only on the final third, I believe his scoring rate will be much higher."



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