Mohamed Salah

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Africa Cup of Nations last 16 preview: Salah, Mane on collision course?

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The group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has been low-scoring, so we’ll be hoping for some early goals to open up play for the many electric stars of Africa.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the big names find the score sheet, as Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and host nation Egypt has two goals — as many as anyone in the tournament — the same amount as club teammate Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: JPW’s Round of 16 predictions ]

The Reds may be on a collision course for Cairo on July 19, with Senegal the 22nd ranked team in the world via FIFA and Egypt hosting the tournament.

All five of the nations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup remain alive, with three in the top of the bracket and two in the bottom.

The 32nd edition of the competition could see a rematch of the 31st final in the quarterfinals, but it will require Cameroon emerging from a massive Round of 16 meeting with Nigeria.

Should they do so, and the hosts beat South Africa, the rematch will arrive on Wednesday in Cairo.

The Cameroon-Nigeria match may be topped by one in the upper half of the bracket, as Ghana looks to reassert itself as a power by knocking of Tunisia. The Black Stars missed out on the 2018 World Cup, and the winner is arguably a favorite to reach the final.

Premier League talents on show

Senegal – Mane (Liverpool), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace)

Morocco – Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Democratic Republic of Congo – Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)

Ghana – Christian Atsu (Newcastle), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Mali – Moussa Djenepo (Southampton)

Ivory Coast – Serge Aurier (Spurs), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Kodija (Aston Villa)

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Islam Slimani (Leicester)

Guinea – Naby Keita (Liverpool)

Nigeria – Leon Balogun (Brighton), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Henry Onyekuru (Everton).

Cameroon – Gaetan Bong (Brighton),

Egypt – Salah (Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)

Round of 16 schedule

Uganda v. Senegal – July 5
Morocco v. Benin – July 5

Madagascar v. Democratic Republic of Congo – July 7
Ghana v. Tunisia – July 8

Mali v. Ivory Coast – July 8
Algeria v. Guinea – July 7

Nigeria v. Cameroon – July 6
Egypt v. South Africa – July 6

Salah helps Warda get reinstated to Egypt’s national team

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CAIRO (AP) Mohamed Salah‘s intervention helped get Amr Warda back on the Egyptian national soccer team despite accusations that he sent lewd messages to two women.

Warda was originally expelled from the team at the African Cup of Nations, but Egyptian soccer federation president Hany Abou Rida reversed the decision on Friday following a plea from Salah and other teammates, and a meeting with the national team that was attended by the country’s minister of sports on Thursday.

“During the meeting, (Abou Rida) praised players for their sense of solidarity, their desire to see their teammate pardoned, to end his suspension, and also for their respect of any decision made by the EFA in this regard,” the federation wrote on its website. “Hence, he decided to alleviate the sanction by suspending the player only until the end of the group stage.”

Egypt, which has already qualified for the knockout stage after beating Congo on Wednesday, has only one match left to play in the group stage. The game against Uganda is scheduled for Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian federation issued a brief statement saying Abou Rida had decided to send Warda home to maintain “discipline, commitment and focus” in the squad. The decision came after videos emerged of women alleging that Warda verbally harassed them.

Warda initially denied the allegations but he soon posted a video on his Facebook page where he apologized to his family, teammates and coaches.

“I promise you that everything will be fine and that I won’t do anything that would be upsetting to anyone,” the 25-year-old player said.

Salah condemned Warda’s behavior on Twitter but said he should be given “a second chance.”

“Women must be treated with the utmost respect. `No’ means `no.’ Those things are and must remain sacred,” the Liverpool forward wrote on Thursday. “I also believe that many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn’t be sent straight to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out.

“We need to believe in second chances … we need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer.”

Egypt captain Ahmed el-Mohamady also showed solidarity with Warda. After scoring against Congo on Wednesday, El-Mohamady celebrated his goal by making a 22 sign with his fingers in reference to his teammate’s shirt number.

However, Salah’s comments in particular elicited the ire of many of his fans on social media and reignited the debate on Egyptian society’s tolerance of injustice against women.

Ghadeer Ahmed, a young Egyptian feminist, mocked Salah on Facebook by changing his nickname from “The pride of Arabs” to “The pride of sexual harassers.”

Sexual harassment, mostly ranging from catcalls to occasional pinching or grabbing, is rampant in Egypt. Polls have found that a majority of both men and women in the conservative Muslim country believe it is justified if women dress “provocatively” in public. According to a survey by the U.N. women’s agency, released in April 2013, nearly 99 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed, with 91 percent saying they feel insecure in the street as a result.

Amro Hassan Elserty, a journalist and soccer commentator, called Salah an “absolute disgrace” on his Facebook page.

“I’ll never ever support a team of sexual harassment endorsers, who believe in giving second chances to someone who has long been imposing himself on females and sexually harassing them for years,” Elserty wrote.

Since Thursday, the hashtag “unfollow-mosalah” has started attracting social media users who voiced their disillusionment with Egypt’s 27-year-old striker.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Follow Live: Africa Cup of Nations – Group play reaches round 2

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The first round of group stage matches is complete and now the slate reracks for teams to truly take control of their Africa Cup of Nations destiny.

[ LIVE: Africa Cup of Nations scores ]

Host nation Egypt takes the field for a second time as they meet Democratic Republic of Congo in the late match in Cairo, while Nigeria has the chance to secure advancement as they play Guinea, and Uganda can push Zimbabwe to the brink of elimination.

Egypt and Uganda can each secure passage to the knockout stage through Group A if both should win, while a loss for either side would complicate matters.The host nation will be looking for a better attacking display after Mohamed Salah was isolated in the narrow opening round win over Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Congo DR likely did not expect to be facing elimination this early, with a team that sports West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku, former Premier League midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, and Porto’s Chancel Mbemba.

In Group B, Nigeria can secure passage to the knockout phase with a win. The clear dominant side in a collection of countries that includes Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi, Nigeria looked sluggish in its opener and will require a more complete attacking display to convince supporters they can challenge for the Cup.

2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Wednesday, June 26

Group A
Uganda v. Zimbabwe – 1 p.m. ET
Egypt v. Congo DR – 4 p.m. ET

Group B
Nigeria v. Guinea – 10:30 a.m. ET

Report: Salah, Mane reject big offers to stay at Liverpool

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According to a report by John Richardson of English tabloid The Daily Mirror, Liverpool frontmen Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have both told the club they are rejecting tempting offers from “leading continental clubs” to stay at Liverpool at least one more year.

The report says that Salah in particular heard from both Real Madrid and Juventus about the clubs preparing massive $189 million offers, but told them he would not entertain contract negotiations that usually precede those type of enormous deals.

Richardson reports that the outside interest was serious enough that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had internal discussions about contingency plans should Salah be tempted by the possibility of leaving, but instead he will stay to have another go at ending Liverpool’s long domestic title drought. The 27-year-old’s contract does not expire until the summer of 2023, having signed an extension just a year ago, so the club still does for the most part control his immediate future.

Salah has scored 71 goals in 104 games across all competitions since joining Liverpool two years ago.

Another prolific goalscorer playing opposite Salah on the left wing, Mane also rejected tempting offers from big clubs, although the report did not name specific teams involved or the price considered. Mane’s contract also runs through the summer of 2023, so it would be tough for him to force his way out of the club as well.

For both players, despite winning the Champions League this past season, leaving Anfield now would feel a bit like leaving business unresolved after coming up just inches short of Manchester City in the title race. After earning a record points haul for second-place finishing team, Liverpool fans feel they can get over the hump next season with another stellar campaign.

Early penalty, late strike leads Liverpool to Champions League glory

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Jurgen Klopp finally has the silverware he has craved since taking over Liverpool four years ago.

A controversial penalty given in the first minute of action slotted home by Mohamed Salah set the tone for the match, and Divock Origi killed off the game with three minutes remaining as Liverpool topped Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in a Champions League final punctuated by poor passing and drab tactical organization.

The game in Madrid started in stunning fashion, with Liverpool earning a penalty after just 21 seconds of play. Sadio Mane‘s chipped cross attempt caught his defender Moussa Sissoko off guard, deflecting off the Spurs midfielder’s chest and rebounding off his outstretched arm in the top corner of the penalty area. Sissoko was clearly pointing instructions to a teammate behind him, and Mane’s cross seemed to come earlier than he expected.

That put Salah on the spot, and he delivered a powerful, thumping penalty just over the outstretched arms of a diving Hugo Lloris who guessed right but had little chance of stopping such a blast. The goal for Salah not only gave Liverpool the lead just two minutes into the game, but made him the fifth African to score in a Champions League final, and

Spurs responded well and proved the better side in the opening stages after the goal. They combined nicely at the top of the penalty area on a number of occasions in the opening 20 minutes, but couldn’t work a good look on net. The game devolved into a nervy showcase of uncertainty, with neither side quite sure what it was trying to accomplish. The atmosphere in the stadium also sported a nervous trepidation, not certain what to make of the first half-hour. Both teams passed poorly and neither team did much of anything in the attacking third. Liverpool played extremely conservative after the early opener and Spurs didn’t trouble the Reds back line much.

Finally, on 38 minutes Andy Robertson took aim from distance on the break and forced Lloris into a leaping save, tipping the ball over the bar. On the ensuing corner, Salah blasted a volley miles over the bar. Christian Eriksen down the other end on the stroke of halftime copied Salah, into a good shooting position in front of the box and ripping it into the seats.

After halftime, not much changed. Spurs held much of the possession but both sides proved sloppy. Lloris made a quality save on Robertson again from distance, beating a streaking Sadio Mane to the ball. Mauricio Pochettino brought in semifinal hero Lucas Moura on for Harry Winks with 25 minutes to go, but it was Liverpool substitute James Milner who had the earlier impact, firing a shot agonizingly wide right with Lloris rooted to the spot. Dele Alli looked to chip the goalkeeper but Alisson was on hand to collect easily.

Sissoko went down injured with 17 minutes to go, replaced by Eric Dier in midfield. Alli had a headed attempt on 78 minutes, but couldn’t get on top of the Trippier cross and struck it over the bar with Joel Matip defending. That woke Spurs up, with Son and Moura both testing Alisson in succession entering the final 10 minutes of the match.

With the momentum seemingly shifting in Spurs’ favor, Pochettino looked to capitalize by bringing on Fernando Llorente in place of Alli. Eriksen forced another fabulous save from Alisson with a close-range free kick in the 85th minute, and Son put the ball over the bar on the ensuing corner but was offside anyways.

Liverpool finally put the game to bed in the 87th minute as Origi, on in place of Roberto Firmino, fired a perfectly placed low effort through the legs of Toby Alderweireld and past a diving Lloris into the far corner. The goal for Origi is his third in the Champions League coming on just his third shot.

The final whistle sounded and saw Liverpool champions of Europe for the first time since beating AC Milan in 2005 on that epic outing in Istanbul. The European title is the first for Jurgen Klopp coming on his third try, losing once each previously with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.