Mohamed Salah wore the captain’s armband for Egypt for the first time on Monday as he scored a brace to become the Pharoahs’ second-leading goalscorer of all time.
Egypt ran out 4-0 winners against Comoros in their latest Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with the 28-year-old scoring twice in the space of four minutes midway through the first half.
Salah now has 45 goals for the Egypt national team, usurping Hassan El-Shazly, and is on track to topple Hossam Hassan’s record of 69 goals before he retires.
And it was an even more memorable day for Salah after he finished the game wearing the captain’s armband as the Pharoahs broke away from tradition.
Regular skipper Amr El Solia was substituted in the 71st minute, with Egypt’s captaincy pecking order decided by seniority in the squad.
Mohamed Elneny has more caps than Salah and traditionally should have been the man to inherit the armband following El Solia’s withdrawal.
However, national team manager Hossam El-Badry has praised the Arsenal midfielder for passing over the armband to the Liverpool forward.
“Elneny’s decision to give the armband to Salah is a very good one and reflects how both players are valuable for the national team,” El-Badry told ON Time Sports TV channel after the match.
After El-Badry’s appointment in September 2019, he caused controversey when reports suggested he wanted to break away from national team tradition and hand the captaincy to Mohamed Salah on a permanent basis.
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However, he swiftly dismissed such speculation, stressing that Egypt’s captain armband will continue to be worn by the most senior player in the team.
Meanwhile, Salah was caught up in a captaincy row at club-level last year when he was overlooked for Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Midtjylland.
Jurgen Klopp admitted he handed the armband to Trent Alexander-Arnold by mistake, forgetting Divock Origi was a longer-serving player at Anfield with the Reds’ captaincy going their most long-standing servant when Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum are not playing.
However, before Klopp clarified the innocent mix-up, Salah admitted in an interview with AS that he had been disappointed to be overlooked.
“Honestly, I was very disappointed,” he said last December. “I was expecting to be the captain… but it’s a manager’s decision, so I accept it.”