Egypt will play its third World Cup in Russia, housed in the same pool as the organizing country, the “Pharaohs” will have the goal of finally passing the first round.
To get there, they will rely on their star, Mohamed Salah, injured, but present in the list of 23.
The 23 players:
Goalkeepers(3): Essam El Hadary(Al-Taawoun/Saudi Arabia), Mohamed El-Shenaoui(Al-Ahly/Egypt), Sherif Ekrami(Al-Ahly/Egypt).
Defenders(9): Ahmed Fathi(Al-Ahly/Egypt), Saad Samir(Al-Ahly/Egypt), Ayman Ashraf(Al-Ahly/Egypt), Ahmed Hegazi(West Bromwich Albion/England), Ali Gabr(West Bromwich Albion/England), Ahmed El-Mohamady(Aston Villa/England), Mohamed Abdel Shafi(Al-Fateh/Saudi Arabia), Omar Gaber(Los Angeles/USA), Mahmoud Hamdy(Zamalek/Egypt).
Midfielders(7): Mohamed Elneny(Arsenal/England), Tarek Hamed(Zamalek/Egypt), Sam Morsy(Wigan l/England), Mahmoud Abdel Razek(Al-Raed/Saudi Arabia), Abdallah El Said(Al-Ahly/Egypt), Ramadan Sobhi(Stoke City/England), Mahmoud Abdel Moneim(Ittihad/Saudi Arabia).
Attackers(4): Mohamed Salah(Liverpool/England), Marwan Mohsen (Al-Ahly/Egypt), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa/Turkey), Amr Warda(Atromitos/Greece).
The probable type-team: El-Shenaoui or El-Hadary – Shafi, Hegazi, Gabr, Fathi – El Said, Elneny – Sobhi, Tarek Hamed, Salah – Trezeguet.
The game system(s): For years, the 3-5-2 has been the trademark of both “Pharaohs” and clubs of the country.
Today, with his coach Hector Cuper, Egypt plays in a 4-2-3-1 that looks more like a 4-3-3 with an inverted tip as the Egypptians like to wait for their opponents and play against.
With the projections of Hamed or Elneny, and the speed of Salah and Trezeguet, they can afford it.
The star player: Mohamed Salah will be one of the stars expected in Russia. The Egyptian striker, African player of the year, best player of the championship of England, is a credible pretender to the next Ballon d’Or.
Egypt is not the same with or without his striker who scored five goals, including four decisive, during the playoffs of the World Cup.
Wounded in the Champions League final with Liverpool against Real (1-3), the Red (32 goals in the Premier League) hopes to return in time to play the first game against Uruguay.
The key player: It may not be up to him enough, certainly because of the influence of Mohamed Salah, but if Egypt went to the final of the CAN 2017 and qualified for the World Cup, c is thanks especially to a very good defense. And the balance of the team as well as the transition defense-attack, rely much on the midfielder Mohamed Elneny. The Arsenal player is a strong link in Hector Cuper’s system by his tactical maturity and ability to give life to the midst of the “Pharaohs”.
The coach : Argentina’s Hector Cuper has brought Egypt to the forefront of the African and world stage, but the 62-year-old technician does not always manage to get rid of his reputation as a loser in the finals.
After two failures in the Champions League with the Spanish club Valencia, he lost in… final of the last CAN in Gabon with Egypt against Cameroon. But it would be reductive to paint Cuper in this respect as the coach, who arrived in 2015, transformed the “Pharaohs” who remained on three absences at the CAN and 28 years without Mondial.
So, if Egypt loses in the final of the World Cup in Russia, no one will hold it against him…
The statistics: 9. This is the number of players playing in the Egyptian league. A small number when we know that historically, the Egyptian selections were mostly (between 70 and 90%) composed of local players.
Preparation: Egypt began preparations for the World Cup in Kuwait and played a friendly match with the Kuwaiti selection on May 26 (1-1). The “Pharaohs” faced the Colombians for their second outing in preparation and defeated Falcao and company (0-0) in Bergamo, Italy.
Their last match before the competition will be against Belgium in Brussels, on June 6th, today.
The opponents in Russia: The record holder of titles in the African Cup of Nations (7 titles) is in the same pool as the organizing country, Russia.
Hector Cuper’s men will not have time to gamble since they cross Uruguay as soon as they enter the competition on June 15th. Then, it will be the turn of Russia, June 19, and finally Saudi Arabia, the team supposed to be the weakest of the group.
The past in the World Cup: Egypt was the first African nation in the World Cup. The Pharaohs were present at the very first edition in 1930 in Uruguay and were released in the first round. They had to wait 60 years and the 1990 Italian World Cup to return to the international stage and be released again in the first round. This year, the goal will be to finally qualify in the round of 16.
The moment that has changed everything: On June 4, 2016, Egypt goes to Tanzania for a decisive match for the CAN 2017 qualification. After a difficult start, the “Pharaohs” rely on Mohamed Salah, author of a double, which allows Egypt to find the CAN after 7 years of absence.
Hector Cuper has been a coach for a year, and six months later, Egypt regains its luster by defeating Ghana (2-0) in Cairo. It was the second qualifying match of the 2018 World Cup, but there was no doubt that the “Pharaohs” had recovered a glow that would allow them to shine on the way to Russia.