FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Egypt hope third time is the charm | football | Hindustan Times
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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Egypt hope third time is the charm

Egypt have only made it to football’s biggest tournament twice before and they will be hoping that their appearance in the FIFA World Cup 2018 will end better than their previous appearances.

football Updated: Jun 02, 2018 21:06 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mohamed Salah’s form and fitness will be key to Egypt’s fortunes at 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Mohamed Salah’s form and fitness will be key to Egypt’s fortunes at 2018 FIFA World Cup.(AFP)

Head coach: Hector Cuper

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified twice; best – group stage (1934, 1990)

Qualifying route: Round 1 – bye; Round 2 – defeated Chad 4-1 (4-0, 0-1) on aggregate; Round 3 – Group E winners (W4 D1 L1)

Squad (29-man preliminary): Goalkeepers - Essam El Hadary, Mohamed El-Shennawy, Sherif Ekramy, Mohamed Awad; Defenders - Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf, Mahmoud Hamdy, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, Ahmed Hegazi, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Elmohamady, Karim Hafez, Omar Gaber, Amro Tarek; Midfielders - Tarek Hamed, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Shikabala, Abdallah Said, Sam Morsy, Mohamed Elneny, Kahraba, Ramadan Sobhi, Trezeguet, Amr Warda; Forwards - Marwan Mohsen, Ahmed Gomaa, Kouka, Mohamed Salah.

Egypt have been an African powerhouse for years now; in fact, they were the first African and Middle East team to ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

To top it off, they have won the African Cup of Nations a record seven times. At one time they were even ninth in the FIFA rankings, making them one of three African teams to reach the top ten of these rankings.

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Despite that, the Egypt national football team has only ever played in two World Cups; with an amazing 56 years separating their two appearances.

Those two appearances did nothing to showcase the talent of the nation as both occasions saw them fail to make it out of the group stages.

Despite a poor showing in the World Cup, there have been a few Egyptians football players who have played in European leagues over the past few years.

Amir Zaki played for English side Wigan in the 2008/09 season and the current squad has two players who play for top-level English clubs: Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny.

Egypt’s group in the FIFA World Cup includes hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. On paper, Egypt and Uruguay seem the likeliest to qualify for the knockout rounds.

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But football games are not won on paper and coach Hector Cuper would be well aware that in order to make it to the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time, his side will need to be at their best.

Three players to watch out for

Mohamed Salah – The £36.9 million Liverpool spent for him seems like daylight robbery given just how prolific he was for them in the 2017/18 season. The ‘Egyptian Messi’ will likely have to race against time to be fit for the tournament and should he regain fitness, he will spearhead the Pharaohs’ attack.

Mohamed Elneny – The combative midfielder might not be a regular at Arsenal but his importance to his national side remains intact. His ability to do the dirty work in midfield might see him rush into one too many tackles but his job remains a key one regardless.

Ahmed Fathy – This experienced midfielder came over to the Premier League in 2007 with Sheffield United but only for a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, he has been a constant in the Egypt side for years and his versatility (he can operate at right back too) makes him a useful player to have in the side.