The Pharaohs led by their star man Mohamed Salah would be looking to make their third ever World Cup appearance memorable. Courtesy of an injury-time penalty by Salah against Congo, Egypt sealed their World Cup spot after a 28-year absence from this prestigious tournament. The last appearance of the Pharaohs in World Cup was in 1990 where they were knocked out in the group stage. Hector Cuper the current head coach of this team has built his reputation on a building very well organized unit and this Egypt team is no different. With an average age of around 28 years, there is experience running throughout this team.
● Squad Analysis :
○ Goalkeeping :
With the likes of Essam El-Hadary in front of goal, he would become the oldest footballer to ever play in the World Cup. With this experience of his El-Hadary is a relic of this team winning the African Cup of Nations three times and also he was once labelled as Drogba’s most fearsome opponent by Didier Drogba himself. Sherif Ekramy and Mohamed El Shenawy are some notable additions to this department.
Defensively Egpyt would be considered as a very conservative, resilient and disciplined side and they are sometimes criticized for it. The Egyptian defence consists of Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, Ahmed Hegazi, Ahmed Fathy and Ali Gabr. Ahmed Hegazi who may have been relegated with West Bromwich Albion this season but he has impressed many with the way he adapted into the Premier League, he is also a committed resilient campaigner who would offer a chief aerial threat for Pharaohs.
○ Midfield :
The Egyptian midfield would be occupied by the likes of Abdallah Said, Mohamed Elneny and Tarek Hamed. Elneny has been the heart of this midfield and has been sometimes a cause for frustration for Arsenal fans this season but he certainly is a committed campaigner as he demonstrated in the African Nation’s Cup final in 2017, he often delivers big performances on big occasions. Abdallah Said at the age of 32 years he is no spring chicken but he plays a key role behind the attacker. As the leading man in this midfield he offers an attacking thrust from distance and also arriving late in the box, he often delivers on big occasions. While he may have had a tricky build-up to the World Cup with the transfer wrangles he will definitely relish the big occasion.
○ Forward :
Upfront Egypt has the presence of Mohamed Salah coming after a back of the season that only a few African players in history have been able to match. if he is 100% fit for this World Cup then he could be a nightmare for the defenders and coming off an incredible season with Liverpool in which he had broken Premier League record for most goals scored in 38 game campaign. If fit can be one of the most fearsome attacking players in the tournament. Egypt is often accused of being a one-man team but in Trézéguet who most likely to start on left flank they also have another key attacking talent with 13 goals and 7 assists in Turkey for Kasımpaşa this season. He certainly has the quality to prove against the defences in Group A to make a real difference.
● Probable Team & Formation :
● Team Ratings :
○ Goalkeeping: 6/10
○ Defending: 7/10
○ Midfield: 6/10
○ Forwards: 8/10
○ Overall: 6.75/10
● Fixtures :
○ 15 June 2018:
Egypt v Uruguay Yekaterinburg, Russia
○ 19 June 2018:
Russia v Egypt Saint Petersburg, Russia
○ 25 June 2018 :
Saudi Arabia v Egypt Volgograd, Russia
● Past Record :
Egypt would be making their third ever World Cup appearance this summer at Russia. Egypt was the first African nation to ever participate in the World Cup in the year 1934 in which they were knocked out in the Round of 16. Their 2nd World Cup experience was in the year 1990 in which they had to exit in the Group Stage itself.
● Recent Form :
Egypt did have minor hiccups in the qualifiers where they were rescued by an injury-time penalty by Mohammed Salah in the game against Congo which helped them to qualify for the World Cup. They have also reached the finals of the African Cup of Nations which means that this lot knows how to to win in the big tournaments.
● Coach’s Quote :
“We hope we won’t be affected, we try to be the same team, we can’t be dependent on one player,” Cuper admitted. “He’s important but if he’s not fit in time we will be ready with another player.”
“Salah is in a stage of recovery not just for treatment on his shoulder,” Cuper added.
“We need to improve his demeanour and his fitness level because the injury has prevented him from training as a normal player.
But we have very good news from our doctor, we hope he will be with us before Uruguay. We are optimists and we are waiting for him.”
● Writers Take:
While there were lots of reasons for optimism including a very favourable group stage draw, Salah’s recent injury put a little bit of dampness into things. Although reports suggest that Salah would be playing the first match against Uruguay, even with Salah in the team there are questions about their strategy and do they have plan B, if Salah is neutralized by a defense or having a increasingly rare off day. Egypt often struggle when they go behind it will be intersting to find out wether they have the second gear if for example Urugauy starts strongly against them.
While this an experienced squad there are defintely aging legs in that sqaud in many key areas. Will these players manage that many games in quick sucession and if they reach the knockout stages could they be exposed by teams like Spain or Portugal? Only time will tell.