Can an outsider like Egypt spring surprise? myKhel.com breaks down the chances of all the 32 countries playing the FIFA World Cup final stages.
Good feelings... pic.twitter.com/Jhyd2kYVKI— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 3, 2018
Placed in Group A along with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
Fixtures: June 15: vs Uruguay, 5.30pm IST (Ekaterinburg)
June 19: vs Russia, 8.30pm IST (St Petersburg)
June 25: vs Saudi Arabia, 7.30pm IST (Volgograd)
FIFA ranking: 45
Previous World Cup: Not qualified
Best finish: Group stage, 1990
Star players: Mohamed Salah (Striker, Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Midfielder, Arsenal)
Coach: Hector Cooper
The struggling Pharaohs
Before the Russian edition, Egypt have made it to only two World Cups - 1934 and 1990. And on both the occasions they have not gone past the group stage. So, history is totally against Egypt. But a point comes when the pages of history will be rewritten. For Egypt, 2018 could offer that point in time.
There are two layers for Egypt's hopes of making it to the knockout stages for the first time. 1. They have a kind draw in Group A with only Uruguay stand as a superior outfit. Saudi Arabia and Russia are struggling with their own issues. 2. The presence of two world class players - Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny.
🙏🏼 🛫🇷🇺🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/k69Ec7Mwns— Mohamed ELNeny (@ElNennY) June 10, 2018
Salah does not need introduction as his rain of goals for Liverpool in the last Premier League season will act as a testimony for his form and class. He is the strength of Egypt. But ironically, he is their weakness too. Egypt is Salah or nothing and if he does not regain fitness ahead then they will struggle to find goals. Sergio Ramos' gruesome tackle has resulted in an injured shoulder and an entire nation is praying for his recovery on time.
The star, of course, is Salah. But the conductor of Egypt's moves will Elneny, the midfielder who plays for Arsenal in the Premier League. But he too has been struggling with an ankle injury.
Prediction: Egypt should be able to seal a knockout berth behind Uruguay. But they still are waiting for a final word on Salah and they need a positive news soon.