Salah's stock rises after Warriors destruction

HARARE - Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah capped a fine display as he spearheaded the Pharaohs’ 4-2 destruction of Zimbabwe during Sunday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The FC Basel player delivered a phenomenal display, scoring a breath-taking hat-trick to lead the Pharaohs to just two points away from qualification to the final knockout stage while condemning Zimbabwe to their third defeat in four matches in Group G.

Salah was simply unplayable at the National Sports Stadium at the weekend as he made Warriors defenders Lincoln Zvasiya and Felix Chidungwe ordinary.

All his three goals were of top quality and bared testimony to why he is highly rated by his Swiss club, which he led to a league title in the just ended season.

It is not only the defenders in the Swiss league that have been left perplexed by the winger’s trickery and pace. Ask Chelsea’s Ashley Cole or Marcelo of Real Madrid, they have all been victims of Salah.

The Egyptian was instrumental in Basel’s run to the semi-finals of last season’s Europa League, where they were knocked out by eventual winners Chelsea. 

A number of European clubs, including Tottenham Hotspurs, are reportedly tracking Salah’s progress and a big money move might be waiting on the wings in the near future.

His treble against the Warriors will also increase his stake and if the Pharaohs are able to reach Brazil next year, it would be ultimately be down to his blistering effort. 

Egypt coach Bob Bradley singled out the 20-year-old for his outstanding performance that helped the Pharaohs maintain their 100 percent record in the group.

“It was a good all round effort on our part and we feel good our creating some chances,” said the American after the match.

“I think specifically Mohamed Salah had some good moments and he managed to take advantage of them. Simply this was the key to the match.”

Warriors coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels concurred with the American that the Basel winger had been the difference between the two teams.

“As coaches we trained to cover him (Salah) and told the players to close him down so that he cannot control the ball,” Pagels said.

“But you see that’s football. Our players did well in training but on the pitch our players were always far away from him.

“When he controls the ball you cannot stop him with the only exception to commit a foul because he is a really good dribbler.

“The difference between some of our players and this player is that when he gets a chance he really uses it.”

It is obvious that Pagels and his technical stuff would have spent a lot of time dissecting the footage from the reverse fixture back in March when Salah won the last minute penalty that enabled the Pharaohs to sneak in a 2-1 win.

But judging by the form he was in on Sunday, there was simply no legal way to stop the Egyptian high flier as he tore apart the Zimbabwe defence.

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