A statement from the Egyptian FA has explained why Mohamed Salah was targeted by pitch invaders during the Pharoahs’ 2-0 victory against Sierra Leone in Liberia on Sunday.
Salah grabbed an assist while Aston Villa forward Trezeguet scored both of the game’s goals to keep Egypt’s perfect World Cup qualifying run intact. Sierra Leone visibly struggled to keep up with Egypt’s intensity.
They finished the game with nine men after Abdul Jarju Kabia and Derby County star Tyrese Fornah were sent off during the bad-tempered affair. Fornah was the first player to be given his marching orders after a high boot connected with Ahmed Fathi on the stroke of half-time.
And then, Kabia was sent for an early bath after a reckless challenge on Omar Marmoush earned him his second yellow card of the game deep in added time.
Fans ran onto the pitch towards the back end of the game and then again after the final whistle had been blown. Footage appeared to show waves of fans trying to reach Salah, who was escorted off the pitch at the end of the game by armed police.
Some had speculated that the pitch invaders were away supporters trying to attack the Liverpool star but according to a statement obtained by the Mirror from Al-Dirandali, the vice president of the Egyptian FA, the aforementioned fans just wanted “to shake hands” with the 31-year-old.
Al-Dirandali said: “I felt worried after more than one fan came onto the field because the number of police on the field was small, but thank God, God covered them. It was not intentional because they wanted to shake hands with Mohamed Salah, but it could have caused harm.”
Salah was not harmed during either of the incidents and will fly back to England in the coming days to join his Liverpool team-mates ahead of a must-win encounter with league leaders Manchester City on Saturday. A victory could see the Reds end the weekend top the Premier League table providing Arsenal don’t overtake them on goal difference with a heavy win over Brentford.