Former Egypt international Ahmed ‘Mido’ Hassan has warned Liverpool that they can’t keep Mohamed Salah from competing at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is already set to throw the world football schedule into absolute turmoil, the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) decision to host Africa’s premier competition in January/ February will cause added headaches for club coaches.
CAF decided to change the date of the upcoming Afcon tournament in Cameroon back to January/February following last year’s tournament in Egypt which was successfully hosted in June/July.
This could mean that Salah and all of Africa’s biggest stars will miss a large part of next season’s club campaign, while the Olympic Games in Japan — which has been postponed to 2021 — will cause even further disruptions to the football calendar.
“Salah must go with Egypt to Afcon — and Liverpool don’t have the right to say no,” Mido told the Sun as reported by KickOff.com.
“These are Fifa rules and they can’t prevent Salah from joining the national team for any reason. If Salah doesn’t want to go, then this is the only reason for not seeing him.
“All African players had this problem when we were in England. So I was happy when the 2019 Afcon was played in the summer.
“This kept the African stars away from any problem with their clubs but the Confederation of African Football decided to go back to the old schedule.
Mido continued: “Salah is very important, of course, to our senior national team and to the Olympic team. A player with his experience and leadership… he can make the difference.
“He will be one of the most important players in the tournament, not only for Egypt. We now know the Olympics will be held in the summer of 2021.
“So hopefully things will go normally and the season will be finished by then, and he will have the chance to play with the Olympic team,” he concluded.
Salah has scored 91 goals in 144 appearances for Liverpool.