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FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Mo Salah –The Little Genius Shouldering Egypt’s World Cup Hopes

The Pharaohs will be making their third appearance at the FIFA World Cup which will kick start on June 14th in Russia and being the most successful African team (a record seven AFCON titles to their name) but with Mohamed Salah a doubt for at least the first group stage match, Egypt have an uphill battle.

The Pharaohs ended a 28-year absence from the competition with a 2-1 win over Congo on October 8th 2017 as they qualified to the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup courtesy of a Mo Salah’s brace, making him the top goal-scorer of the third round with five goals, tied with Cameroon’s Préjuce Nakoulma.

Egypt will start their campaign with a tough encounter against two-time champions Uruguay on June 15 before facing hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia in the other two games in the group stage on June 19 and on 25th, respectively.

Despite their impressive run in the qualifiers, the Pharaohs need to address future areas of concern which could determine how long their stay in Russia will last.

Over Dependent on Salah  

Almost every team in the world has a key player it relies on should the going get tough -the one to deliver the goods – and for Egypt is Liverpool’s hotshot Mohamed Salah.

The former Chelsea attacker has been in fantastic form all season for the Anfield outfit but is a doubt for the opening match against Uruguay and possibly the subsequent two group games after he prematurely left the UEFA Champions League final early in the first half with a shoulder injury which he is working hard to shake off.

Coach Hector Cuper will have to psych his players to play without their best player should the worst come to pass for Salah, something Liverpool failed to deal with during their UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Should Salah miss any of their group games, the responsibility of getting them goals and being the brain behind the team’s attack will go to Turkey-based Mahmoud Trezeguet who is arguably the second best player in Egypt’s armory after Salah. He scored 16 goals for his Turkish club Kasimpasa this season, a career high tally. He is also football website Whoscored’s most rated player in Turkey this season.

Cuper seems to have absolute faith that Salah will recover in time as he has picked only one striker aside Salah, a decision that could backfire should the 25-year-old’s injury persist.

Away from the selection oversight and Salah’s Issues, Egypt do not hold a lot of possession in their matches, something they might need to work on if going beyond the group stage is a priority.

The final 23-man squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Essam El-Hadary (Al Taawoun), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly).

Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Al Ahly), Saad Samir (Al Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Mohamed AbdelShafy (Al Ahli), Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom), Ali Gabr (Zamalek), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Omar Gaber (LAFC), Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh (Zamalek).

Midfielders: Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mahmoud Abdel-Razik Shikabala (Zamalek), Abdallah El-Said (Al Ahli), Sam Morsy (Wigan), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Mahmoud Trezeguet (Kasimpasa), Amr Warda (PAOK), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

Forwards: Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Kahraba (Zamalek).


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