Manager blames fitness of “Chelsea’s Salah”, others for Senegal loss


You aren’t alone, American fans bemoaning the lack of playing time for USMNT players at their European clubs.

And while it wouldn’t have benefited Egypt for Mohamed Salah to be playing domestically — Pharoahs coach Shawky Gharib admitted as much — Egypt’s 2-0 loss to Senegal in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying last week was partly down to Chelsea.

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Which is to say, down to Salah. The midfielder was under fire from Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for his effort levels as last season wore on, and hasn’t featured much for the Blues early this season.

From ITV News:

“The poor fitness of the players, especially Chelsea’s Mohamed Salah, is also a reason for the loss.

“The Egyptian league hasn’t started yet and also Salah didn’t play regularly with Chelsea. If Salah is off-form, Egypt’s performance is always affected.”

Salah is one of Egypt’s stars dating back to Bob Bradley’s tenure managing the Pharoahs. He has 19 goals in 30 matches, a strike rate that dwarfs anything he’s done for Chelsea, Basel or even El Mokawloon in his home nation.

But he needs to get his act together, fast, or Egypt will be out of contention for the important African tournament.

Still, American fans will recognize the quandary faced by Saleh and Egypt, even if it isn’t an exact mirror to the problem posed to USMNT players. The Egyptian league is significantly below MLS, but that isn’t the issue.

At 22, Saleh was featuring regularly for Basel, a Champions League side in a decent Swiss league. But he stepped his game up and went to Chelsea, and his national team coach isn’t bragging about the great training Saleh receives at Stamford Bridge. He wants match time, reps and fitness.