Mohamed Salah followed up his 2018 African Footballer of the Year coronation by suggesting that his home country acting as hosts for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will help to revitalise Egyptian league football.
Salah beat a host of other top African footballers, including Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane and Premier League rival Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to win the award Tuesday evening.
His home country will host the Cup of Nations tournament later this year after Cameroon were denied hosting rights primarily due to security concerns.
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool breaks away to score his second goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Vitality Stadium on December 08, 2018 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
“It’s the right time for Egypt – as we have to be clear – our league is not a top league in Africa at the moment,” Salah said, according to the BBC.
“I’m sure this is going to be the start for us to be back.”
Football supporters in Egypt were banned from attending matches back in February 2012 after 74 Al Ahly supporters tragically died during a game against Al Masry in Port Said.
And it wasn’t until September last year that fans were once again allowed to watch games, with 5,000 supporters attending matches.
Salah, however, believes that Egyptian league football will benefit greatly from hosting the tournament, and that the national team will experience a boost, too.
“The fans are going to be back in the stadium, and everything is going to be back like before,” he said.
“I’m sure everyone knows about Egypt and the seven Africa Cups – we’re going to look for number eight now, and this is the best time to start to be back like before.”