Egypt forward Mohamed Salah is on the bench for Friday’s World Cup opener against Uruguay in Yekaterinburg. The 25-year-old has not played since injuring shoulder ligaments during Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid on 26 May.
On Thursday, Egypt boss Hector Cuper said he could “almost assure” media that Salah would “100%” play. Cuper said Salah was “doing very well” and had recovered “very, very quickly” from his injury.
EGYPT LINE UP
23 Mohamed El-Shenawy
6 Ahmed Hegazi
2 Ali Gabr
13 Mohamed Abdel-Shafy
7 Ahmed Fathi
19 Abdalla Said
8 Tarek Hamed
17 Mohamed Elneny
9 Marwan Mohsen
22 Amr Warda
URUGUAY LINE UP
1 Fernando Muslera
3 Diego Godín
2 José Giménez
22 Martín Cáceres
4 Gullermo Varela
15 Matías Vecino
6 Rodrigo Bentancur
10 Giorgian de Arrascaeta
8 Nahitan Nández
21 Edinson Cavani
9 Luis Suárez
OMENS FAVOUR URUGUAY?
The build-up to this game has been dominated by the fitness of Salah.
He joined the squad for training on Wednesday, completing the warm-up and then finishing the rest of the session away from the group. The team doctor said afterwards they were monitoring his progress “day by day”, and Cuper played down the importance of the forward, saying: “Our tactics don’t solely revolve around him.”
The fuss around the Liverpool star could well play into the hands of the Uruguayans, who seem to have gone under the radar despite being strong favourites to top Group A.
An experienced squad contains four players with more than 100 caps, and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera (97) and forward Luis Suarez (98) should reach their century by the end of the group stage. The potent forward pairing of Suarez and Edinson Cavani have also scored 93 international goals between them.
All the omens point to a Uruguayan win. The South Americans come into this fixture on a run of three consecutive victories, while Egypt are without a win in 2018 and are yet to taste victory at a World Cup.
- Uruguay beat Egypt in their only previous encounter, defeating them 2-0 in Alexandria in August 2006.
- The Uruguayans are unbeaten against African opposition at the World Cup (W1, D2), while this will be Egypt’s first meeting with a South American side at the tournament.
- Egypt have never won a game at the World Cup finals (D2, L2).
- This is the Pharaohs’ first World Cup appearance since 1990 and their third overall. They lost 1-0 to England in their last game in the tournament.
- Head coach Hector Cuper is making his World Cup debut as a head coach. His only previous major tournament in charge of Egypt saw them reach the Africa Cup of Nations final in 2017, where they lost 2-1 to Cameroon.
- Goalkeeper and captain Essam El Hadary could become the oldest player in World Cup history (45 years and 151 days).
- Mohamed Salah scored five goals in the third round of African qualifying, more than any other player.
- Salah will celebrate his 26th birthday on the day of the game.
- Two-time champions Uruguay have only progressed beyond the round of 16 once in their last six World Cup appearances, when they finished fourth in 2010.
- Uruguay have only lost one of their last eight World Cup group games (W4, D3).
- However, they have failed to win their opening game at the last six World Cup tournaments (D3, L3).
- This is Oscar Tabarez’s fourth World Cup appearance as a head coach (1990, 2010, 2014 and 2018), more than any other coach at this year’s tournament.
- Edinson Cavani was the top scorer in South American qualifying with 10 goals.
- Luis Suarez has recorded five goals and two assists in eight World Cup games.
Source: BBC News