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AFCON 2023: Salah confident of being African champion “sooner or later”

AFCON 2023: Salah confident of being African champion “sooner or later”
Egypt's Mohamed Salah leaves the field after sustaining an injury during the 2023   -  
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Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Ivory Coast

Despite his injury and Egypt's lacklustre start to the Africa Cup of Nations, Mohamed Salah remains convinced he will win the tournament "sooner or later".

The two-time African Player of the Year has never won the Africa Cup, he came close in the last edition and in 2017, but Egypt lost in the final each time. “I've won everything possible, but this is the one I haven't won yet,” the Liverpool star said on Sunday. "It will happen one way or another. That's what I believe. And whatever I believe, I realize. So it will happen. It will happen eventually."

To ensure that Egypt qualifies for the knockout phase of the current edition in Ivory Coast, the "Pharaohs" will first have to beat Cape Verde, winner of Group B, and this without Salah, who is injured. The striker injured his hamstring during Egypt's 2-2 draw against Ghana and is expected to be out for two matches.

"We are not very good at the moment, but we are a fantastic team, we have a great coach. So we have to stay focused, have a good vision and be positive. And I believe that with work everything will be possible ", Salah said.

Egypt has won more African Cup titles than any other country, but Salah said the team was determined to extend their record to eight trophies.

"Everyone knows what it means for a player to win the African Cup. We are always proud to wear this jersey," Salah said. "We were unlucky in the last edition, that of Gabon (in 2017) too, a little unlucky. The players are very motivated to win the tournament. We all want to win it."

Egypt are not the only pre-tournament favourites struggling to reach the knockout stage. In Group B, Ghana need a victory against Mozambique to continue their hopes of qualifying. The top two finishers in each group qualify for the round of 16, while the top four third-place finishers in each group also qualify.

The host country, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria will have tough matches to play this Monday, against Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, respectively, in Group A. Cameroon, Algeria and Tunisia are among the potential candidates for the title who are experiencing difficulties.

"It's really tricky," said Salah, who noted that improving standards made matches more unpredictable. "African football is improving a lot. We saw it at the World Cup, Morocco went very far and all of Africa was behind them. So I think African football is improving considerably."

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