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Mohamed Salah – Egypt’s hope to win the 2019 AFCON on home soil

Saudi Arabia v Egypt: Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
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Mohamed Salah celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, six days before the start of the upcoming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Egypt’s hopes to win the 2019 AFCON this summer, will depend on Mohamed Salah’s form, as the Pharaohs host the 32nd edition of the competition.

Salah is not only the best player in his national team, but also one of the best at the whole tournament, being named the African Footballer of the Year twice in a row, in 2017 and 2018.

The forward had an extremely successful 2018-19 campaign with Liverpool, on both club and individual level. He finished the season with 27 goals and 13 assists across all competitions, winning the Premier League Golden Boot for a second successive time.

His favorite moment will probably be the goal from the Champions League Final against Tottenham, as the Reds beat Maurizio Pochettino’s side 2-0 to lift their sixth European Cup.

However, Mohamed Salah’s way to the top was full of ups and downs. He started out in a local club named El Mokawloon, making his debut in May 2010, while Basel gave him his big break in Europe, signing the young forward during the summer of 2012.

The 20-year old at the time, quickly established himself as a regular at his new club, netting 10 goals in 50 appearances in his debut season at the St. Jakob-Park. He was named as the CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2012 and only a season and a half in Switzerland, Salah finally got his big move, signing for Chelsea in an £11 million transfer deal.

Unfortunately, his move to Chelsea didn’t turn out as expected, as the Egyptian made only 13 Premier League appearances for the Blues in the period between January 2014 and January 2015.

During the winter transfer period in 2015, Salah was loaned to Fiorentina, and later to Roma, at the start of the 2015-16 season. The Egyptian started to shine again in Serie A and won the A.S. Roma Player of the Season award in his first year at the Olimpico.

The Giallorossi made the deal permanent in August 2016, while Salah repaid them big time, noting 15 goals and 13 assists in 31 appearances in the Italian League.

His excellent performances in the red and yellow shirt of AS Roma, put him on Jurgen Klopp’s radar, as the German coach agreed to pay €42m for the forward in June 2017.

Salah’s return to English football was completely different from his first experience. In his first season at Anfield, the Egyptian King, as Liverpool’s fans call him now, netted 32 times in 36 league games, breaking two Premier League records: most goals in a 38-game EPL season and most games scored in during a Premier League season (24 games).

He also found the net 11 times in the Champions League, becoming the African player with most goals scored in a UEFA Champions League season. The Reds reached the final, but lost 3-1 to Real Madrid, as Salah was substituted in the first half of the game after suffering a shoulder injury.

It had worked out well for him this season though, as he scored the opener in a 2-0 UCL Final win over Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, as Liverpool won their sixth European crown.

There is another big task ahead of Mohamed Salah this summer, as he is expected to guide Egypt to African Cup of Nations glory on home soil, after losing in the 2017 AFCON Final against Cameroon.

Can Salah win the eighth African Championship for the Pharaohs? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.