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Mohamed Salah reacts to shock AFCON exit as Liverpool star opens up on "tough" tournament

The Egyptian talisman has admitted he was stunned to see one of the favourites for the tournament in Nigeria be dumped out of the competition at the round of 16 stage

Mohamed Salah has claimed that the fact Nigeria were eliminated at the last-16 stage of the African Cup of Nations is a marker of how high the standard is for this year's tournament.

Having finished top of their group with maximum points after three games, many fans and pundits alike predicted the Super Eagles would go on to eventually win the competition outright.

Instead, they fell at the first knockout hurdle when faced with the task of toppling Tunisia in the last-16, losing 1-0 and spurning a fantastic chance of securing their fourth ever Africa Cup of Nations crown.

Things fared drastically better for Salah's Egypt, who have already booked their place in the last four of the competition after the Liverpool star helped his national side overcome Morocco during last Sunday's quarter-final clash.

Salah bagged Egypt's equaliser from close range after former Southampton man Sofiane Boufal put the Moroccans in front with a first-half spot-kick.

Goalscorer turned provider after Salah laid Trezeguet’s winner on a plate during the opening exchanges of extra time to ensure it was the Pharaohs who marched on in pursuit of glory.

If Egypt are to get all the way to the final, they will have to take on and better Cameroon in the semi-final but Salah has already done some reflecting on how hard it was to simply reach this stage.

"Nigeria had been the best team in the group stage and then they lost," he told GOAL .

"So you never know with any game. It's tough for everyone. Algeria lost in the group stage, having won it last time, and they had a great team.

"Senegal qualified with one goal, I'm not saying something bad, just that the tournament is tough."

Elsewhere in the competition, Senegal are gearing up for their own semi-final clash against Burkina Faso.

This means there is a good chance that Liverpool's two talismanic forwards in Salah and Sadio Mane could meet each other in Sunday's final.

Jurgen Klopp has had to go without two of his best forwards since the beginning of January, the last time both donned the iconic red shirt was away at Chelsea in 2-2 draw in which both Mane and Salah got on the scoresheet.

Things have ticked over nicely enough at Anfield in their absence, with Liverpool winning four and drawing one of the five games since both jetted off for international duty.

Both players are likely to be available the next time Liverpool are in Premier League action on February 10 when they welcome Leicester City to Anfield.