Mohamed Salah's quest for international success with Egypt puts him and his team after pressure, amid a stuttering start to the Africa Cup of Nations, says Jay-Jay Okocha.
For all his club success, Salah has yet to win a trophy for his country – twice losing in the final of AFCON in 2017 and 2022.
The Liverpool No. 11 kicked off his 2023 AFCON campaign in Ivory Coast on Sunday, as Egypt drew 2-2 with Mozambique.
The result was a surprising one, with Salah needing to score a stoppage-time penalty to rescue a point against the underdogs who are 111th in the FIFA rankings.
Salah's injury-time penalty equaliser for Egypt in their AFCON opener yesterday. 👑pic.twitter.com/batdx8LIkz
Next up in their bid to make the last 16, the Pharaohs face continental heavyweights Ghana on Thursday, with the match now an all-important one for both sides.
Speaking after the first round of fixtures, Nigeria legend and former Premier League star Okocha claimed that Salah and Egypt are under pressure, but have an advantage ahead of their next game.
"Egypt is one of the countries expected to win the Africa Cup of Nations," he said, via King Fut. "Mohamed Salah wants to achieve success with his national team and that puts him and the whole team under pressure. You have to learn from the lesson, and it requires a strong team to return in terms of results and performance.
"Egypt has an additional advantage because if they don’t lose to Ghana, they are ahead of them. Egypt needs to win against Cape Verde to qualify for the Round of 16.
"Egypt rescued a draw in the last minutes against Mozambique, which will give them a morale boost, while Ghana lost in the final minutes, which is discouraging for them, and they are in a bad situation facing Egypt, and they have to win. The advantage is in favour of Egypt, not Ghana."
Okocha also discussed the fact that Salah featured in a midfield role against Mozambique, rather than out wide, with manager Rui Vitoria also trialling the positional switch in a warm-up game pre-tournament.
The former Bolton playmaker called on Salah to be honest with his national team coach.
He said: "It is up to the coach to find the best position for him to get the best performance and result.
"Salah is one of the greatest African players, and he should be honest with the manager and tell him which position suits him."
Salah and Egypt take on Ghana on Thursday, 18 January, before their final group game against Cape Verde four days later.
How many Liverpool games the winger is absent for as a result of the tournament depends on Egypt's progress. Should the Pharaohs make the final once again, Liverpool's top scorer could miss a total of eight club fixtures.