Why there will be more to Egypt than Salah at the World Cup

Why there will be more to Egypt than Salah at the World Cup The joyous scenes in Cairo, after Egypt qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years,...
Photo: Official Ekramy twitter account

Why there will be more to Egypt than Salah at the World Cup

The joyous scenes in Cairo, after Egypt qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years, depicted a nation full of not only passion and jubilation, but also renewed hope. The obvious cause for such positivity is the form of Mohamed Salah, who has recently become only the second Liverpool player in over two decades to score 30 goals in all competitions one season.

Egypt Football Fans

As well as his impeccable goal-scoring proficiency, the 25-year-old is one of just two Premier League players this season who rank both in the top ten for most short key passes completed (45) and in the top five for most successful dribbles (65) – the other player is Eden Hazard (WhoScored)

The Chelsea man is one of several big names in Belgium’s star-studded squad, whereas Salah will be regarded as Egypt’s main man in Russia. While it is understandable that Saudis in the final clash in Group A – which Egypt are 15/8 with Betway to qualify from as of 16th March.

Protecting El-Hadary will be Ahmed Hegazi, who may have something to prove after what is likely to finish as a relegation season with West Bromwich Albion. The 27-year-old’s speed and agility has been questioned, so Egypt won’t want him to be drawn into wide areas, but there remains a section of Baggies fans who feel he has been one of the more tolerable performers.

Ahmed Hegazi

Photo: Ahmed Hegazi (Official Instagram account)

Hegazi’s international record might be a source of encouragement: six of the last ten competitive international games he has started for his country have resulted in clean sheets. That may be partly down to the standard of opposition – although two of those shut-outs have come against a reasonable Ghana side – and partly the tactics employed.

For all manager Hector Cuper’s achievements, which include a 63% win rate, he has been at times questioned based on the defensive style of play he enforces. With quality in central areas – creative magician Abdallah Said will take on the attacking midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 – Egypt must balance their priorities effectively.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

They must replicate the defensive know-how they have shown to reach Russia, but in the transitional phases, they must also offer the necessary support to Salah. That man will be the king that tops the pyramid for The Pharaohs, but any history-making in Russia will be based firmly on collective graft and craft.

the former Roma man will get extra publicity, it is important to remember that the mighty Pharaohs have quality in other areas.

Mohamed Elneny

Mohamed Elneny @ Egypt’s training camp

Mohamed Elneny, in particular, has developed significantly at Arsenal this season. After signing from Basel, he was initially referred to as ‘sideways bob’ as a reference to both his unambitious passing and his hair, which resembles an antagonistic character on The Simpsons. The fact his nickname has since changed to ‘El-niesta’ might say something about the fickle nature of modern football fandom, but it certainly attests to Elneny’s progress.

The deep-lying midfielder will still play the safe pass when required, but he has recently become far more effective at switching play to the opposite flank and looking for quick through balls that might set a forward free.

Morsy

Photo: Official Sam Morsi twitter account

The Gunners general could be partnered by either Tarek Hamed, a disciplined holding midfielder for Zamalek SC, or Sam Morsy. The latter has his combative side – as we saw during his time at Port Vale earlier in his career – but he will go to Russia confident of holding his own against the more refined technicians.

The fact Morsy is currently a League One player only tells half the story: he captains Wigan Athletic, who boast one of the most complete third-tier sides in recent history. The only reason they aren’t currently steaming ahead at the summit is postponements and a back-log of fixtures, a by-product of them knocking three Premier League sides including Manchester City out of the FA Cup.

Morsy possesses similar qualities to Elneny – composure under pressure and an eye for a productive pass from deep – so while he might not enter the tournament as a big name, he could finish it with an enhanced reputation.

One man in the public eye from the outset will be Essam El-Hadary, who is set to become the oldest player to play in a World Cup match at 45 – two years older than Faryd Mondragon was for Colombia in 2014.

The goalkeeper started his professional career with Damietta back in 1993 – and is still playing two and a half decades later. He now plies his trade in the Saudi Arabian league, enabling him to pass on handy knowledge before the showdown with the Saudis in the final clash in Group A – which Egypt are 15/8 with Betway to qualify from as of 16th March.

Protecting El-Hadary will be Ahmed Hegazi, who may have something to prove after what is likely to finish as a relegation season with West Bromwich Albion. The 27-year-old’s speed and agility has been questioned, so Egypt won’t want him to be drawn into wide areas, but there remains a section of Baggies fans who feel he has been one of the more tolerable performers.

Hegazi’s international record might be a source of encouragement: six of the last ten competitive international games he has started for his country have resulted in clean sheets. That may be partly down to the standard of opposition – although two of those shut-outs have come against a reasonable Ghana side – and partly the tactics employed.

Hector Cuper

Hector Cuper

For all manager Hector Cuper’s achievements, which include a 63% win rate, he has been at times questioned based on the defensive style of play he enforces. With quality in central areas – creative magician Abdallah Said will take on the attacking midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 – Egypt must balance their priorities effectively.

They must replicate the defensive knowhow they have shown to reach Russia, but in the transitional phases, they must also offer the necessary support to Salah. That man will be the king that tops the pyramid for The Pharaohs, but any history-making in Russia will be based firmly on collective graft and craft.

 

 

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Egypt National TeamFeaturedWorld Cup 2018World Football
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