World Cup Preview: Egypt

Liverpool’s talisman, Mohamed Salah is facing a race for fitness for the World Cup following his saddening injury during the Champions League final. Here’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with the preview of Mo’s home nation Egypt’s chances at the World Cup.
Overview

This is Egypt’s first World Cup since Italia ’90, and it’s largely down to the Egyptian King himself, Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool man scored an injury time penalty against DR Congo to secure passage to the World Cup in Russia this summer.

There’s no doubt that he is their most influential player, as he would be on 90% of club and national teams across the globe.

This is Egypt’s third appearance at a World Cup, with the other two resulting in the team falling at the first hurdle, they are actually yet to win a game at the biggest competition known to football.

A rare image from the 1934 World Cup.

In 1934, Egypt became the first African side represented at a World Cup, they remained the only side from Africa to ever play in the tournament until 1970 when Morocco were introduced.

Interestingly, Egypt have only played against European competitions in previous appearances in at the World Cup. Hungary in 1934. England, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland in 1990. Their first game at this year’s competition will be the first time they’ve faced non-Euro competition as they take on Uruguay.

Head Coach: Hector Cuper

62-years-old and d├ębut-ing at his first major international tournament as player or coach. Hector leaves little to be known about Egypt’s Argentinian coach.

Cuper. The man to lead Egypt through the group and beyond?

His lack of tournament experience may come to haunt Egypt at this year’s competition but he is still chocked full of experience, particularly with nations that float under the radar. A year with Georgia. Plus spells with Spanish team Real Betis don’t make for the best CV in the world. However, for Egypt and their underdog narrative, it’s exactly what they need.

Group

Group A is more than escapable for Egypt. They’ve been blessed by a promising group outlook. Their group includes the hosts, Russia, fellow African nation Saudi Arabia and Luis Suarez’ Uruguay. The toughest game is undoubtedly Uruguay. Russia simply cannot be ruled out as no-one quite knows what to expect from them. Their opening game against Saudi Arabia will set the tone for the rest of the group stage.

Egypt have never faced Russia in any form of competition. The Pharaohs have one game against Uruguay under their belts, with a 2-0 loss in a friendly in 2006. By far the most frequent competition is agianst Saudi Arabia with six games between the two sides. Egypt winning four of those games, one tie and Saudi coming out on top just the once.

That one win was a 5-1 win at the 1999 Confederations Cup, to be fair to the Saudis.

Prospects
The Spanish FA sacked their manager just days before their World Cup began. He signed with Real Madrid earlier this week.

The Egyptians looking forward to the World Cup are rightly optimistic about their chances in the group stage but with a prospective round of 16 game against either Spain or Portugal would have the Pharaohs fearful for their chances beyond that.

However, it does truly sound like poetic justice if Egypt manage to face off against Spain in the round of 16 and for Mo Salah to get the better of Sergio Ramos after the Champions League final episode between the two.

Fixtures
June 15 (Mo Salah’s birthday, you know): Egypt vs Uruguay
June 19: Russia vs Egypt
June 25: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt
Verdict

With Mohamed Salah cultivating a nation and an entire fanbase into combining together for the good of the game, there is truly nothing that the Egyptians can’t do at the World Cup. From doubters to believers at club level. Doubters to believers at national level.

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