Milutin Sredojevic sings Mohamed Salah praises but fears Egypt's World Cup chances
Posted: 7 May 2018 Time: 19:30
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic has reserved high praise for Egyptian star Mohamed Salah, but fears that his impact could be minimised at this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Having spent 16 years coaching across Africa, the Serbian tactician knows a thing or two about players and teams from the continent.
Above: Sredojevic while coaching Uganda, whom he led to a huge 1-0 victory over Egypt in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Kampala, Uganda last year.
As has been the case in the past, hopes are high that CAF will be well represented at the global showpiece in Russia next month, particularly with Egypt boasting Africa’s and the English Premier League’s current best player within their ranks.
Sredojevic, who has tracked Salah’s journey from his time in the Egyptian Premier League in 2010 through Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Roma and now Liverpool, concedes the Pharaohs have a great chance with the 25-year-old leading their charge at the World Cup, aided by their extremely passionate supporters who will get behind the team no matter what.
“When he was nobody at Arab Contractors, I know how he went to Basel, I know his road and I know who is managing him,” Sredojevic pointed out of the Liverpool forward.
“I can tell you that it has not come as an accident, but he has gone through thick and thin in his life in order to have reached this level.
“He’s one of the rare players that gives equally to the national team and to his club. When talking about Egypt, the love and passion Egyptians have towards their national team is something very hard to believe.
“What you saw in the CAF Champions League final between Zamalek and Sundowns, now multiply that with 10 – that is the passion they felt when Salah scored the penalty in the 95th minute against Congo Brazzaville [to book their ticket to Russia 2018].”
Above: Salah accepts applause after Liverpool beat AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals recently.
While he has no doubt that Egypt’s golden boy has the ability to shine at the World Cup next month, ‘Micho’ fears that individualism in football has phased out and the make-up of success lies within the team performances, using Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi – amongst others – as reference.
“One player alone – and you can see it in the case of Argentina [and star forward Lionel Messi] – cannot carry the team alone,” added the Bucs mentor.
“[In the international friendly between Egypt and Portugal in March] they could take the lead but then in two minutes it could all fall down because simply to reach the highest level, football has gone that far that you need to have a group of players, not one individual to carry the team.
“Salah’s shoulders can carry the team to a certain level but when it comes to the best results and performances, the power of individuals fall down and cracks appear, like Spain showed against Argentina [in a recent friendly international].
“Time when individuals – Maradona in 1986 and 1990, Roberto Baggio with Italy – carries the team alone; or two players – Bebeto and Romario for Brazil – have slowly gone.
“I have the sense, as a technical person, that the power of making results go towards the team lies not only with individuals [anymore].”
Above: Salah in the colours of Egypt during their friendly international defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in March.