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From Ivory Coast to Liverpool … and back again. Mo Salah may face exhausting round-trip to win his first international title

Mohamed Salah will return to Liverpool after sustaining an injury at this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON), but Egypt’s captain may find himself on a flight back to the Ivory Coast should his nation qualify for the semifinals of the tournament.

According to statement from his club Liverpool, Salah sustained a muscle injury during Egypt’s group match against Ghana on Thursday and is set to return to the UK in order to receive treatment after watching his nation’s group match against Cape Verde on Monday.

The extent of Salah’s injury is currently unknown but Egypt said it hoped to “catch him in the semifinals” should the team get that far without him. The Pharaohs will definitely qualify for the knockout rounds with a win in its final group game. It will then play the last 16 and quarterfinals without Salah.

“However long he is out, I think probably everybody sees that it makes sense that he is doing the rehab with us or with our people,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Sunday after his team’s 4-0 away win at Bournemouth in the Premier League.

When asked if he thought Salah would be fit enough to rejoin the national team in Ivory Coast, Klopp said: “I’m not a doctor. I would say if Egypt qualify for the final and he is fit before the final then probably yes. Why not?

“That’s clear, it’s the tournament. Ivory Coast, I am sure it is a wonderful country, but we have no people from us there and their people have to take care of the players who are playing, so let’s see.”

Salah has never won AFCON for his country but came close in 2021 when Egypt lost the final to Senegal on penalties. He also finished runner-up in 2017 when his country lost 2-1 to Cameroon in the final.

“I have won everything possible but not this one yet,” Salah told reporters, per Reuters.

“It will happen somehow, that is what I believe, and whatever I believe I achieve, so sooner or later it will happen.”

If this is to be his year, Salah will certainly be made to work for it.

There is approximately 5,300km between Liverpool and Abidjan, where Egypt play Cape Verde on Monday, meaning the 31-year-old might clock up over 20,000km of flying in order to help his country win an eighth AFCON title.

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