Mohamed Salah’s World Cup hopes came to a heartbreaking end following yet another penalty shootout loss to Senegal.
Egypt had won the first leg of the World Cup qualifier 1-0 but with scores level after the second leg, the two nations headed to penalties.
The teams squared off in similar fashion a few months earlier at the African Cup of Nations final. Mo Salah elected to take Egypt’s fifth penalty but never got the opportunity to take it after Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane sealed the cup win for Senegal.
Salah didn’t make the same mistake this time round. Stepping up first for Egypt, Liverpool’s talisman was greeted with a barrage of laser pointers. Given the distraction it was no surprise to see him blaze his penalty over the crossbar and into the stands, much to the delight of the home crowd.
It wasn’t just Salah who was targeted. Senegal fans used laser pointers throughout the match to distract opposing players.
In the end it was a case of deja vu for Egypt as Sadio Mane stepped up for Senegal to score the winning penalty and seal their spot at the World Cup.
Jubilated Senegalese fans stormed the pitch to celebrate. Some even raced towards Salah prompting security to rush to his protection. Salah’s security personnel guided him off the pitch and into the tunnel. Senegal fans in the stands above took Salah’s exit as an opportunity to pelt him with objects. Guards can be seen batting objects away as they help Salah escape the mayhem.
The Egyptian FA has since claimed the team were faced with racist abuse from Senegalese fans. They issued a statement saying, “The Egypt national team have been exposed to racism with offensive signs in the stands against the Egyptian players in general, and Mohamed Salah in particular.”
“The crowd also intimidated the players by throwing bottles and rocks on them during the warm-up. The Egyptian group’s buses have also been exposed to assaults that led to broken windows and injuries.”
It’s likely that Senegal’s federation will be fined a small amount for their fans’ use of laser pointers. El Salvador was punished by FIFA with a fine of 12,500 Swiss Francs for a lack of “order and security” after lasers pointers were used and objects thrown in their World Cup qualifier against Mexico last October.
If anything, a fine will be a small price to pay for Senegal’s third appearance at the World Cup. They’ll be joined by fellow African nations Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia at the tournament in November.