World Cup 2018 Egypt team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Egypt have qualified for a World Cup for only the third time in their history – but will their main man be fully fit?
- Honours: AFCON 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010.
- FIFA Ranking: 46
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
It all came down to a final matchday showdown against Congo, and, as had been the case in a superlative year, Mohamed Salah produced the goods when it mattered to ensure Egypt qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Salah had given his side a 63rd minute lead even though Egypt still looked tentative in a tense match with opponents who had yet to win a match at the bottom of the group. A defensive blunder had let him in, to the relief of the home crowd, but Egypt's dreams threatened to turn into a nightmare when Arnold Bouka Moutou equalised, firing past 44-year-old goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary with three minutes left.
The home side, though, won a 95th minute penalty which Salah converted to secure the trip to Russia.
With additional reporting from Reuters
STAR MAN - Mohamed Salah
Salah has emerged this season as a genuine world-class star. He finished the season as the Premier League’s top scorer, its best player and a record breaker (his 32 goals were a record in a 38-game top-flight season). Furthermore, he was instrumental as he led an unfancied Liverpool team to the Champions League final. Egypt will hope that the forward can translate some of that magic to the international scene.
However, his fitness for the tournament is still in some doubt having suffered a serious-looking shoulder injury in the Champions League final. While he has been named in the squad, doubts persist over the extent to which his shoulder has recovered.
NEXT BIG THING - Ramadan Sobhi
Sobhi, 21, struggled to impose himself at a pretty abject Stoke side but has excelled for the national team, with whom he made his debut as a 17-year-old back in 2015. He now has 19 caps for the Pharaohs, where dovetails with Salah at the forefront of the Egypt attack.
THE COACH - Hector Cuper
Cooper, 62, took Valencia to two Champions League finals at the turn of the century but his career has since been nomadic, with spells with the Georgian national team, Aris Thessaloniki F.C. and Orduspor.
He took the Pharaohs to the final of AFCON in 2017, where they lost to Cameroon, and also was the architect of their first trip to a World Cup finals since 1990.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
This is Egypt’s third trip to a World Cup, and they will harbour hopes of progressing beyond the Group Stage for the first time in their history, having been drawn in a favourable group that also contains Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
The Pharaohs’ World Cup record currently reads four games played, zero won, two draws and two defeats.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Their match against Russia, should other results go as expected, will decide who qualifies second from the group. The fitness of Salah, their talisman and reference point, will obviously have a large bearing on their progression.
They could face Spain and Sergio Ramos in the round of 16, which, given Ramos' coming together with Salah during the Champions League final, could prove a highly charged encounter.
- June 15th: Uruguay
- June 19th: Russia
- June 25th: Saudi Arabia