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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Mido backs Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to bounce back from poor form

Former Egypt international says current superstar not affected by pressure, but he concedes 'second season always difficult'

Egypt's Mohamed Salah has endured a challenging start to 2018/19 after enjoying fantastic returns last season. Reuters
Egypt's Mohamed Salah has endured a challenging start to 2018/19 after enjoying fantastic returns last season. Reuters

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah can handle the pressure that comes with his recent poor form and emerge to have a successful season, according to compatriot and former Egypt international Mido.

Salah, 26, has struggled somewhat this campaign following an incredible debut season with the Premier League club, scoring only three times in 11 appearances. Last term, he netted 44 times and was named the English top flight's player of the year.

The Egypt international has since had many issues to deal with, most notably his recovery from an injury that threatened his World Cup this summer and a high-profile disagreement with his country’s Football Association regarding image rights.

Salah was forced to withdraw from international duty this past week after picking up a muscle injury. He undergoing treatment back at Liverpool but remains a doubt for this week’s Premier League encounter with Huddersfield Town.

However, Mido is backing his fellow countryman to come through the lean period and return to his best form.

Mido, centre, believes Mohamed Salah has been unlucky with injury issues lately. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mido, centre, believes Mohamed Salah has been unlucky with injury issues lately. Antonie Robertson / The National

"I don’t think Salah gets affected by pressure,” the former Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur and Roma striker said in Dubai on Wednesday, at the launch of the fourth season of the du Football Champions and duTalents, the Middle East’s first sports-tech scouting platform.

“He’s a big boy now. He knows how to deal with the pressure. You see the penalty he scored in the last minute [in the qualifier against DR Congo] to get Egypt to the World Cup after 28 years - you could easily see that he’s a guy that doesn’t mind pressure. Sometimes in football pressure helps you.

“We all know the second season is always difficult. He had an exceptional season last season and now people are asking him to do the same, which is impossible. Only [Lionel Messi] and [Cristiano] Ronaldo can score 45 goals every year.”

Salah has not looked the same player since his injury against Real Madrid in May’s Uefa Champions League final, when a collision with Sergio Ramos led to a dislocated shoulder.

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Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, left, fouled Mohamed Salah of Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League final last season. AP Photo
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, left, fouled Mohamed Salah of Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League final last season. AP Photo

He recovered in time for the World Cup, but played only his side’s final two Group A matches in Russia as Egypt exited at the group stage.

“He’s been a little bit unlucky with his injury during the World Cup and just before the World Cup, and it affected him a little bit,” said Mido, who scored 20 goals in 51 internationals appearances for Egypt.

“He’s an emotional boy. He got affected by what happened during the World Cup, that Egypt couldn’t make it through, that he couldn’t help the team.

“He just needs to do as he’s doing now, just keep his head down and keep working hard every day, and the good things will come, as it came last season. The only way to make it in football is to keep your head down and work hard.

"And he knows that. I’m sure he will get over this.

“But again, if Mohamed Salah ends up scoring 25-plus goals he’s still had a great season. So I’m sure he will get over this period. I’m sure he will get back to his top form very quick.”

Mohamed Salah, right, has had success at Liverpool under the management of Jurgen Klopp. AFP
Mohamed Salah, right, has had success at Liverpool under the management of Jurgen Klopp. AFP

On the ongoing problem with the Egypt FA, Mido said: “His agent, his lawyer, has been dealing with the issue. Salah has been focused on his work and what he has to do to get to his best again.

"People might think he is affected by the problem, but he’s 100 per cent focused on his football.”

Celebrated former Egypt international Hazem Emam, speaking alongside Mido, sounded a more cautious note, saying: “All the pressure is too much on him in England and in Egypt. In Egypt, he is our hero. We wait every weekend to see what Salah will do.

“At his club, they trust him a lot. The people love him in the dressing room. I do not think he is in trouble, or in crisis. It is normal in football – you can score and you can have some bad luck.

"I cannot guarantee he will do like last year, but he will not be bad. He can score 25 to 30 goals this season, in all the competitions.”