Mohamed Salah, a Liverpool winger, seldom appeared at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 31-year-old’s tournament ended after he suffered a hamstring injury during a 2-2 tie with Ghana in the group stages. He only managed one goal.

After that, Salah returned to the UK to start an “intensive rehabilitation program.”

As a result, he made his comeback for the Reds last Saturday when they defeated Brentford 4-1 in the Premier League. In addition to scoring one, Salah set up Alexis MacAllister’s goal.

Despite missing the 3-1 victory over Luton Town in the middle of the week, Salah is anticipated to be healthy for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

The Egyptian has quite a collection of trophies. At Anfield, he has won the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Premier League, Carabao Cup, and FA Cup.

There is one that is conspicuously missing: The AFCON.

Legendary African football players like Didier Drogba, Kanu Nwankwo, and Emmanuel Adebayor—who represented the most prominent teams and took home the greatest honors—join Salah in this group, aside from the AFCON.

What are the legacies of players like these?

“Their legacy remains that they are great players for their various clubs and countries,” Wale Agbede, the Head of Sports at Plus TV, tells ZINGTIE.

“Drogba, for instance, played for Ivory Coast at the World Cup. Scored many goals for them in qualifiers and reached the AFCON. The same goes for Salah, who also lost an AFCON final to Senegal. Even Kanu lost in the final too to Cameroon.

“Consider Kanu. He was already a folk hero from 1996 when Nigerian won the Olympic Gold in Atlanta. So people love him.

“Maybe apart from Salah, players like Kanu and Drogba inspired the followership of certain European clubs in Africa.

“Not winning the AFCON has not necessarily changed any perception.”

A few factors could contribute to a top player winning abroad and missing out on continental glory.

“There are different things. Quality of teams, team-mates, luck, etc. With cup competitions, you have to be very lucky.

“For Salah with Egypt, I don’t think he played in the best era of Egyptian football. If he played with Aboutreka and Mohamed Zidane, Salah would have won the AFCON.

“If you go to Liverpool, Salah has played during one of the most successful eras at Anfield,” Agbede adds.

Victor Osimhen, a striker for Napoli, participated in his debut AFCON competition this year and scored just once in seven games.

Osimhen led the Serie A team to victory in the previous season with 26 goals in 32 league games.

The Super Eagles star scored the equalizer as they drew 1-1 with Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on his comeback to the starting lineup in midweek.

Osimhen wasn’t quite able to lead Nigeria to gold in Ivory Coast, as the team lost the final, despite the expectations of many supporters and commentators.

Discussions over whether he might be among the greats to miss an AFCON have resulted from this.

Agbede said: “It’s always a possibility for every player.

“If he doesn’t enjoy any success with Nigeria, then Nigeria will not enjoy any success in the foreseeable future.

“The real question is if he achieves more success on club level. Even though Napoli won the Scudetto last season, they are on the decline. If he stays with Napoli, you question if he will win another title.

“You suspect he will move on to a bigger team this summer. But you cannot guarantee success with any club.

“But for the national team, he obviously just missed out on an AFCON. The team is young and has room for growth. Who knows – in subsequent competitions, if they get the rub of the green in the draws, they could go all the way.”

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