Though he is yet to find the net in this season's UEFA Europa League, right-winger Mohamed Salah continues to impress for FC Basel 1893.
Basel surprised many with their performance in last week's 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur FC, but it was Salah who was in particularly eye-catching form for the visitors to White Hart Lane. Propelled by the Egyptian international, Basel must now be considered serious contenders to eliminate Tottenham and reach the last four.
Salah dribbled, passed and danced his way into recognition in north London last Thursday. Even Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel was quick to applaud the lightning-quick 20-year-old, who arrived from Arab Contractors SC last summer. "He was great," said the former United States international.
Friedel's Basel counterpart Yann Sommer was equally full of praise. "Tottenham were barely capable of handling him," he said. Indeed William Gallas and Benoît Assou-Ekotto struggled to cope with a man the English media described as a "ballerina" for the way he tied the hosts in knots.
Certainly, Swiss football fans are beginning to wonder how long Salah will stay with Super League leaders Basel – bigger stages surely beckon. However, he does not quite have everything, as was plain to see in England. A failure to be clinical in front of goal remains his biggest weakness. He spurned one especially good opportunity against Tottenham, while at least four clear chances went begging in the round of 16 first leg against FC Zenit St Petersburg.
"If Mohamed could score as well, he would not be here any more," said Basel coach Murat Yakin. "Or he would not have come here in the first place." President Bernhard Heusler added: "If he was more clinical, his value would have another zero!"
Salah, it seems, is aware of the problem but is keeping calm. "Sometimes the ball just doesn't want to go in, no matter how often you try," he said. "But as a team we are on a very good run and we have a chance to make the semis – that is the most important thing. In five years' time, maybe I will take those chances and score." If Salah can find his scoring boots a little sooner, Basel's European adventure may well extend beyond Thursday's Tottenham showdown at St. Jakob-Park.
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