Uruguay captain Diego Godin bristled at the suggestion that his team might resort to a physical approach to neutralise Egypt forward Mohamed Salah on his return from a shoulder injury in their World Cup opener today.
Godin appeared offended by a question from a reporter who asked whether they would repeat what Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos did to Liverpool’s Salah in last month’s Champions League final.
“That is a very inopportune question,” Godin responded, evidently irritated by the implication that Uruguay might attempt to inflict the sort of injury on Egypt’s premier striker that had materialised from the Ramos clash.
“I don’t think it’s pertinent. I don’t think anyone has bad will or tries to deliberately injure a player. These things happen in football unfortunately.”
Pharaohs manager Hector Cuper has offered “100%” assurance the Liverpool forward will be in the Pharaohs side for the country’s first World Cup match in 28 years.
Salah trained with the ball for the first time on Wednesday, convincing Cuper he is ready.
“Salah has recovered and will play tomorrow. And nothing prevents him from competing for the title of the Golden Boot,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“I assure you 100% that he will be with us tomorrow, barring unforeseen circumstances.”
The hopes of a nation rest on Salah, who scored the penalty which secured their first World Cup appearance since 1990.
It’s also a momentous day for the Liverpool player, who is set to make his World Cup debut on his 26th birthday — which also coincides with the start of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that celebrates the conclusion of Ramadan.
“Salah is decisive but our preparation does not depend on the status of one player,” Godin added.
“We’ve been preparing for a long time and are focused. We’ve thought about what we have to do and have taken precautions.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez echoed his captain’s views.
“We have played against the likes of Messi, Neymar and others. If Salah plays we will just have to control his many strengths,” the 71-year-old coach said.
“I would be happy if Salah could play. In a dream match, for him to suffer that injury is sad.
“I don’t know about his recovery as it was in the United Kingdom. It’s a private matter. We haven’t planned a strategy whether he is on the pitch or not.”
Uruguay forward Luis Suarez is looking for redemption in Russia, after he was vilified in South Africa in 2010 for preventing a goal with his hands then condemned for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil.
The Barcelona player says he wants to remove “the thorn on a personal level.”
And when asked yesterday if Suarez was more mature now, Tabarez said “without any doubt.”
“Maturity comes in all areas of life — in football, in family life, in personal life,” the coach said. “He has thought about it. He has prepared himself for the World Cup.
"I think that in addition to being a great player, Luis is very intelligent.”
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