Mohamed Salah has achieved “nothing” with Egypt and the Liverpool star must raise his level when featuring for the national team, according to former Pharaohs coach Hassan Shehata.
In response, Egypt’s former sports and youth minister Khaled Abdel Aziz defended the forward, calling him a wonderful ambassador and unifying figure for the country.
Salah scored 31 goals and provided 15 assists across all competitions for Liverpool as they won the EFL and FA Cups last season, also finishing as runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League.
But the forward experienced a more frustrating campaign on the international front, as Egypt lost the Africa Cup of Nations final on penalties to Senegal in February and suffered the same fate in March’s crucial World Cup qualification play-off – with Salah missing from the spot in the latter contest.
Those disappointing results have led Shehata, who coached Egypt from 2004 to 2011 and won consecutive Africa Cup of Nations titles in 2006, 2008, and 2010, to call for improvements from Salah.
“We all know that Salah is one of the stars of the world and not just one of the stars of Egypt,” he told Sada al-Balad. “The awards he took and the goals he scored give him the right to be the top star.
“But technically, and I’m sorry to say this, Salah has done nothing with the national team. He should have done much better than he has. He must provide more when he plays for his country.”
However, Shehata did admit Salah was playing with inferior players when joining up with the national team, and said it was up to coaches to get the best from the 30-year-old after Egypt put in a series of dull displays at this year’s Cup of Nations.
“It’s true [that there is a difference in quality compared to Liverpool],” Shehata said. “He should have said this to the officials here – although he is not the one who chooses the players – but he should’ve said that the players here are not like the players in England.”
Shehata’s criticisms have not gone unnoticed in Egypt, with the country’s former sports minister Aziz defending Salah’s role on and off the pitch.
“Mohamed Salah was one of the most important soft forces that returned life in Egypt to normal after the  June 30 revolution,” he wrote on Twitter, alongside an image of himself with the Liverpool star.
“He was a wonderful global ambassador for his country in a difficult political period and led the national team to the World Cup after 28 years [in 2018].
“And despite the suspension of the league [after deaths occurred amid stadium violence in 2015] and then the league of the two groups, he led the team to the final of Africa [Cup of Nations] 2017 after three consecutive times we did not qualify at all.”
Egypt are seeking their third head coach of the calendar year after sacking Ehab Galal after only three games at the helm last week, just two months on from Carlos Queiroz quitting the role.