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FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup Group A Analysis. Can the Pharaohs Finally Get a World Cup Win?


With the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup field set, and the eight groups finally known, the teams that qualified can at last prepare for the opponents they will be facing come June 14th.

Focusing on African teams, Ducor Sports will be dissecting each group and trying to figure out the chances African teams have to qualify for the last 16 and the path to the trophy.

We will be looking at the players to watch (as usual, subject to injuries), who stands a chance to qualify from each group, records between group members and who might be the surprise team- both for the better and the worse.

Group A is by far the most well balanced group in the tournament. It will of course have the hosts Russia, South American heavy weights Uruguay, former African champions Egypt and Asian confederation representatives Saudi Arabia.

As usual, we plan to make this series as interactive as possible, so feel free to go down to the comment section and let us know which game you are looking forward to the most and who you think will make it to the last 16.



For decades, Egypt have failed to turn their dominance on the African continent into World Cup qualification.

They pose the greatest threat to hosts Russia and Uruguay in the battle for a qualification spot. It will be their first World Cup since 1990 when they finished bottom of Group F. However, with a new generation of players who will be making their debut in the World Cup, the Pharaohs have enough fire power to go through this group.

They are managed by Argentine tactician Hector Cuper who focuses on defense first and loves to attack on the counter. Egypt has never won a match at any World Cup but they should finally feel confident this summer considering the team they have.

Mo Salah has been in prodigious form for his national team and club Liverpool. Since his debut for his national team on 3 September 2011, Salah has so far scored 36 goals out of 56 caps and it was his injury time penalty that handed his country a place at the World Cup Group stage. With no doubt, he will definitely be the one to watch while facing Egypt.

Though Egypt’s hope to progress rest on Salah’s shoulders; however, there is no “I” in teamwork. The World Cup like every other competition has its own enthusiasms.  Egypt’s first match against Uruguay is crucial moment that will determine their chance to progress. Salah and co. still have to be at their absolute best come June 15th when they face Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg.



The Russians find themselves in probably the easiest group in the entire tournament and therefore can’t afford to be knocked out early.

They received an automatic qualification spot as the host nation therefore didn’t go through the rigid qualification process.

To the Russians, their Group A draw was a victory. They dodged getting a European opponent, then to sweeten the deal; one of their group opponents is the lowest ranked team in the tournament while the other hasn’t qualified for a World Cup spot in the last 20 years. However, being complacent about opponents and as host-which we hope they wouldn’t develop, is risky. If the Russians develop such mindset for the global completion, they may see themselves taking the shockingly taking the exit door from the early stage. Their performance in the last edition was poor after failing to cross the group stage. They finished third in Group H behind Belgium and Algeria.

They will open the tournament against Saudi Arabia in what will be a clash between the two lowest ranked teams at the event. (Russia are 65th while Saudi Arabia are 63rd).

Uruguay is surely a formidable foe but the battle for second place will be absolutely fascinating.



Uruguay booked their ticket after finishing second behind Brazil in a tricky South American qualifiers group and are by a long shot favorites to top the group.

The La Celeste are managed by master tactician and grinder Oscar Tabarez who has been at four World Cups and knows how to get a win at all costs.

Like most South American sides, Uruguay have a ridiculous attack. They boast with two of the world’s best strikers in Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and PSG’s Edinson Cavani. Suarez who will be making his third World Cup appearance, is the man to watch for when going against Uruguay. His ability to play as a point and supporting striker, and his direct runs towards goal has always caused problem for defenders.

In defense, they will rely on the experience of team Captain Diego Godin, a respected organizer of the defensive line who was a virtual figure in the qualification round.


Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia will have the honor of opening the World Cup against Russia but they are still by far the weakest team in the group.

They overcame unimaginable odds to qualify for the first time since 2006. They fired two coaches in the qualifying round alone but that didn’t stop the Green falcons from making it to Russia.

Yes, traditionally, Asian confederation teams have been the weakest teams at recent World Cups but of course in a game of football, anything can happen.

Losing the experienced Bert Van Marwijk who led them to the 2010 Cup might actually hurt but former Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi might cause a few upsets.

They will be looking to Mohammed Al-Sahlawi their most instrumental player who scored 16 goals during their qualifiers to lead them in June.

Nawaf Al Abed is also composed, can both score and can create whereas Fahad Al Muwallad is exciting.

Group A is by far the easiest group but it’s one with a tough path thereafter. While one fancies qualifying top of any group to better their chances in the round of 16, the winners and runners-up will face either Portugal or Span if all goes to play.


The Fixtures.

June 14th.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia. Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (3pm)

June 15th.

Egypt vs Uruguay. Ekaterinburg (12pm)

June 19th.

Russia vs Egypt. St Petersburg (6pm)

June 20th.

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia. Rostov-on-Don (3pm)

June 25th.

Uruguay vs Russian. Samara (2pm)v

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt. Volgograd. (2pm)


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