This article is part of our World Cup feature focusing on African teams: Africa’s hope for a World Cup triumph
Today we look at Egypt’s chances.
Key Players: Salah, Elneny, Hegazy, Trezeguet.
Coach: Hector Cuper.
When you think of Egypt, you immediately picture Mohamed Salah. His season with Liverpool should give The Pharaohs confidence of at least getting out of their group. If they could get one over Luis Suarez’s Uruguay in the process, that would make plenty of Africans happy.
Egypt has many well-known players in the footballing world. Mohamed Elneny plies his trade at Arsenal and will be instrumental as a shield in front of the defence. Ahmed Hegazy and Ali Gabr may have gotten relegated with West Bromwich Albion but they did manage to impress, especially Hegazy who has put in some quality performances in England since his arrival. The two stalwarts of the Egyptian defence will have benefited from the aggressivity of the EPL.
Saudi Arabia have sort of been a whipping team in the past few World Cups and there is no indication this should change for Russia 2018. Egypt should easily earn 3 points against them. Russia has the home advantage but their squad is just not good enough and judging by their form, they are entering this tournament as underdogs to even make it out of Group A. Egypt has the means to finish second and can even aim for first spot, which could hand them a more favorable challenge in the Round of 16.
Finishing first or second in Group A would most likely pair Egypt with Spain or Portugal, unless Morocco can punch above their weight. It’s not too far-fetched thinking Morocco can rise above Portugal in Group B. Portugal rode their luck to win Euro 2016, finishing third in their group and winning only one game in regular time. How much longer can their luck last?
Up against Spain in the Round of 16, Egypt will not have much of a chance but it would be fair game against Morocco or Portugal. France or Argentina could then await in the quarter finals and unfortunately, both should be out of reach for The Pharaohs. Egypt have been gifted a relatively easy group but it gets tricky once they get to the knockout stage. Can Mo’Salah pull off a miracle for The Pharaohs?
Our Prediction: Round of 16.
Trivia: 45 years old goal keeper Essam El Hadary could make his first appearance at a World Cup in Russia and be the oldest player to have ever played in the tournament.
Next in this series: Morocco’s back on the World stage after 20 years
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