A Mohamed Salah inspired Egypt cruised past Chad in the second round of qualifying before finishing top of their group in the third round ahead of a Ghana team including ex-Villan Jordan Ayew. This qualified Egypt for their first World Cup in a generation.
Our Ahmed Elmohamady, however, struggled to make a real impact and only played in 2 out of the 8 games and started in just 1.
The World Cup 2018 warm up games haven’t gone to plan for Egypt nor Elmo. Egypt failed to win a single game and finished with a resounding 3-0 defeat to Belgium. Elmo made just two substitute appearances, once at right back and once at right midfield.
This form may worry the African side but in tournament football form can be irrelevant and it is all about who handles the occasion the best. So, who will Egypt be facing in Russia this summer?
Egypt were drawn in Group A alongside the hosts, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. The World Cup kicked off today and Russia comfortably despatched Saudi Arabia 5-0. It may only be the first game but Saudi Arabia look vulnerable to becoming the whipping boys of Group A. This leaves 3 teams going for 2 qualification spots. The Russians did look strong today but tougher tests are ahead for them.
The Egyptian’s opponents on Friday, Uruguay, are many people’s favourites to top the group. It’s not difficult to see why when their squad is examined. They boast arguably the best front-two in the competition in Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez. They also look defensively strong with Athletico Madrid defensive pair José Giménez and Diego Godin at the heart of the defence.
Egypt will not be pushovers though. They have a number of Premier League talents in their ranks such as Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny and Huddersfield’s Ramadan Sobhi. The jewel in the Egyptian crown is, undoubtedly, Liverpool’s Mo Salah. He has been involved in 58 goals this season for club and country which is 9 more than Cavani and 10 more than Suarez.
Whether Elmo will feature on Friday is far from certain but if he does he will almost certainly feature down the right flank. It seems appropriate to see which players from the opposing countries in Group A he will have to duel.
Russia will likely stick with the same team that finished today’s game in their 5-0 win. This team included ex-Chelsea man Yuri Zhirkov at left back and Denis Cheryshev of Villareal at left midfield who came off the bench today and scored 2 fantastic goals.
With Uruguay playing 2 central strikers, their formation is often more flexible than other nations. They sometimes play a 442 with orthodox wingers but did have success in qualification with a 4312 with the fullbacks providing the width. In either formation, Gastón Silva of Argentinian team Independiente was an almost ever present at left back. In his 10 appearances he accumulated 2 assists and managed to keep the more experienced Martin Caceres out of the team when he returned from injury. It is unclear who will claim the left back spot come Friday but whoever it is will give Elmo as stiff a test as he has faced all season.
Elmo is an experienced campaigner at international level and has had a very solid first season in claret and blue. If given the chance by national manager Hector Cuper I am sure he will do his country proud.
The game begins tomorrow at 13:00 GMT and following the final whistle there will be a match review on the website so make sure to check it out to see how Elmo gets on.