You might know very little about football, and even less about Egyptian football, but it’s a fair bet you’d still have heard of Mo Salah. The star in the Egypt squad is one of the players everyone wants to see at this year’s Finals. But will he only be around for the group matches?
A rather dour, organized team, on the whole, Egypt looks to have very little chance of qualifying from the group. But when you throw in the aforementioned Salah, a wiley experienced head coach and one of the weakest groups you’ve ever seen at a World Cup finals, they might just have a chance.
Egypt Squad Outlook
Essam El Hadary, Mohamed El-Shennawy, Sherif Ekramy, Mohamed Awad, Ahmed Fathi; Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf, Mahmoud Hamdy, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, Ahmed Hegazi, Ali Gabr; Ahmed Elmohamady, Karim Hafez, Omar Gaber, Amro Tarek, Tarek Hamed; Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Shikabala, Abdallah Said, Sam Morsy, Mohamed Elneny; Kahraba, Ramadan Sobhi, Trezeguet, Amr Warda, Marwan Mohsen; Ahmed Gomaa, Kouka, Mohamed Salah
Squad Talk: This is one of the weaker teams in the World Cup as Egypt look to build a reputation in football. You’ve likely only heard of a few of their players with Salah, and Elneny being among them.
Going forward Mahmoud Hazan, and Abdallah Said will play alongside Salah as part of a three-man attacking midfield, and they will mostly look to play on the break. With Ahmed Hassan will be the lone striker. The Braga striker will have the thankless tasks of pressing the other team’s defenders and holding the ball up for the midfield.
Mo Salah is clearly the pick of the bunch. A potential Balon d’Or winner, Salah may not be at full fitness for the Finals. After picking up an early shoulder injury in the Champions League Final Salah may miss the first group game. Just 2 goals behind Lionel Messi for the European Golden Shoe, Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot.
After one of the best seasons in Premier League history, Salah will look to put his stamp on the finals. Tricky and fast, Salah will look to attack at pace, and shift the ball onto his left foot. His biggest problem, assuming he’s fit, will be the lack of quality support around him. There’s a chance he could become too isolated, although the lack of quality in the group may just give him a chance to shine.
Who’s The Gaffa
Hector Cuper is no stranger to the top level of football having previously coached Valencia and Inter. He took the top job in Egypt in March 2015 and reached the final of the 2017 CAF Africa Cup Of Nations. He has now guided the Egyptians to their first Finals since 1990, and only their second ever.
He’s likely to continue to set out to make Egypt very tough to beat. They will settle in deep and look to hit on the break and let Mo Salah win it for them. Egypt likely won’t be a pretty team to watch, but Salah will at least give them a fighting chance of progressing.
Likely Group Finish: 3rd Place
Egypt have the faintest hope of qualifying from the group if they can upset Russia in their second group game. Relying solely on Salah they are likely going to be overmatched in only their second ever World Cup Finals. Of course, if they can remain tight and organized, there is that slim chance that some Salah stardust will sprinkle them into the next round.
Lazy Fan Fact: Egypt’s all-time caps leader is Ahmed Hassan with a staggering 184 appearances