Could Salah Win the Golden Boot?

January 23, 2018

After a sensational debut season in the Premier League with Liverpool, some people are tipping Mo Salah to be an outside candidate for the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Russia in the summer, with the “Egyptian Messi” a 66/1 shot to do so.

Without doubt, he is Egypt’s star man, so much so that Egypt have earned the nickname of “the Mo Salah team”. This is perhaps unsurprising given his 32 goals in just 56 appearances for his country – something that has put him fifth in Egypt’s all-time top scorers at the age of just 25.

But while Salah has demonstrated that he has more than enough goalscoring ability in the Premier League this term, the question isn’t really whether he has the ability to win the Golden Boot. The fact that 62% of all bets in that market were placed on Salah during one week in December goes to show that many believe that to be the case. The question is, will Egypt play enough games, and create enough chances, for him to be in with a shot?

To put it into context, the last player to win the Golden Boot, but not see his side progress past the group stage, was Oleg Salenko for Russia in 1994. In that year’s tournament in America, Salenko shared the Golden Boot with Hristo Stoichkov. However, this award was certainly an anomaly, as Salenko became the only man to have ever scored five goals in a single World Cup match, as Russia annihilated Cameroon 6-1. Salenko also managed a consolation goal against Sweden to ensure he went down in World Cup history.

Will he play enough games?

So, unless he is to do a “Salenko”, you’d expect Salah to need at least five games to be in with a chance of winning the Golden Boot. That means Egypt would need to reach the World Cup quarterfinals (9/1) – which, considering they’ve never won a game at the tournament in there two previous outings (in 1934 and 1990) seems unlikely.

However, Egyptian hopes shouldn’t be quashed before they’ve started. Indeed, they have been drawn into what is, by some distance, the easiest group at the tournament – their opponents being hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay (the highest ranked team in the group, being number 21 in the world). Naturally, the FIFA world rankings aren’t a perfect indicator, but Egypt are actually the second highest ranked team in the group, coming in at number 31 in the world.

It certainly isn’t unfeasible for Egypt to reach the knockout stages. That said, if they were to progress, they would next face a team from group A, which would most likely be Spain or Portugal – certainly an unenviable task.

Recent Posts