FT World Cup 2018: Egypt's Tournament in Review
Disappointing Egypt fail to create any momentum at the World Cup
Things just didn’t work out for the Egyptians in this World Cup. It is said, “to whom much is given, much is expected”. The Pharaohs simply failed to deliver on football’s biggest stage. Kicking off their World Cup campaign without their talisman player Mohamed Salah, the North African giants never looked threatening in any of their three Group A games. They went down 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening match. The story continued in their second game where they lost 3-1 to Russia, and even the return of Salah in this game couldn’t rally the team to victory. They capped off their disappointing World Cup with a shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, effectively leaving the tournament with another disappointing display.
Egypt vs Uruguay
The first game was quite an uphill task for the Egyptians in all honesty. With the news that Mohamed Salah would not start the match due to his shoulder injury he received from the UEFA Champions League final with Liverpool, it was quite hard to imagine them grinding out a positive result in this match. The outcome of the game proved as much as they succumbed to a late Luis Suarez goal which resulted in a 1-0 victory for Uruguay. The loss was all but shocking considering that Egypt never really looked like they would break down a well oiled Uruguay defense marshaled by Diego Godin.
Egypt vs Russia
This was a game that was highly anticipated by most Egyptian fans as it marked the return of Mohammed Salah after recovering from his shoulder injury. Ahmed Fathi’s bizarre own goal seemed to have paved way for more goals as Russia became rampant thereafter, adding two goals in quick succession, courtesy of Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba to kill the game off. Though Salah did pull a goal back for the Egyptians 20 minutes from time with a coolly struck penalty, the damage was already done and Egypt found it hard to break down a resolute Russian defense in search for a comeback. An early exit for Egypt was confirmed at the end of this game after two losses on the trot.
Egypt vs Saudi Arabia
Many expected Egypt to salvage some pride here by beating Saudi Arabia, but that was not to be. Salah put the Pharaohs ahead with a nice lob over the Saudi Arabian keeper, but Salman Al Faraj sent Essam El-Haddary the wrong way to level matters after Saudi Arabia was awarded a penalty. The Saudis then put the last nail in the coffin for Egypt right at the stroke of full-time courtesy of Salem Al Dawsari's close-range finish, defeating the Egyptians 2-1. This marked the end of The Pharaohs’ short World Cup spell which was thoroughly disappointing, to say the least.
Defense is the best form of attack, Egypt was poor defensively hence they also failed to provide a threat going forward.
Not relying on one man to drive the team.
Play for the jersey and show hunger.
Heavy reliance on one man can be a recipe for disaster. Egypt simply did not offer much going forward especially during Salah’s absence. It is safe to say the North African giants never got the ball rolling.
They need to ramp up their defense which proved to be the weakest link of the team. With the departure of El Hadary, the team also needs more leaders to step up and motivate the players all around the pitch.