Mohamed Salah has denied reports of conflict between Egypt's World Cup squad after losing to Russia 3-1 on Tuesday and effectively being knocked out of the competition after just two games.
Salah proved the hero for Egypt during World Cup qualifying as he struck an injury-time penalty against Congo to secure his country a spot in the finals for the first time since 1990.
The Liverpool forward missed the opening game of the tournament, however, after dislocating his shoulder during the Reds' Champions League final encounter with Real Madrid on May 26.
Egypt fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in their opener without Salah, though he would return to action for their following fixture against tournament hosts Russia.
Salah became only the third player to score for Egypt at a World Cup finals, after Abdelrahman Fawzi (1934) and Magdy Abed El Ghani (1990), when he converted a second-half penalty in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
The goal was merely a consolation, though, as Russia secured a 3-1 victory to see them take another step towards the round of 16.
Following the result, reports surfaced that the country's showing in their first two games had caused conflict between the players, staff and the fans watching at home.
But Salah was quick to shut down the speculation.
"Everyone in Egypt is together and there is absolutely no conflicts between us," Salah shared on his Twitter account. "We respect each other and the relationship is best."
Struggling for fitness after that setback in the Champions League final, Salah has rarely been out of the headlines before and during the World Cup - and not just because of his injury.
Ahead of the tournament the Egypt talisman had been photographed with controversial Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov, with human-rights campaigners claiming that the former rebel was using the Liverpool forward for publicity purposes.
Kadyrov also denied that he was in any way involved in the defeat to Russia, with the Egypt squad based in the Chechen capital Grozny between World Cup matches.
He was delighted with Russia's win and insisted that he had no influence on the result, claiming he did not sabotage Egypt's World Cup campaign.
"I had nothing to do with it, it's all down to the Russian players, their professionalism, and of course our belief in their victory," Kadyrov wrote on the Telegram messenger service, as quoted by ftbl.ru.
Shortly after the match Kadyrov issued a statement congratulating the 'main fan of Russia's national team' President Vladimir Putin, praising his countrymen and particularly those in Chechnya who had supported the team.
"First of all, the Chechens cheered for the Russian national team, then our players," Kadryov said. "And, of course, Egypt has become our home team.
"I want to congratulate the most important fan - the president of the country, who created the conditions for us, raised Russia, put us on a new level and did everything for Russia to show itself in sport, industry, everywhere, everywhere. We rise."
Liverpool star Salah was named Premier League Player of the Season, PFA Players' Player of the Year and the African Footballer of the Year during the 2017-18 campaign, while also claiming the Premier League Golden Boot with 32 goals.
By Patrick Gleeson
Copyright © 2022 Goal.com All rights reserved.