An 89th minute Jose Gimenez header gave Uruguay all 3 points in an otherwise uneventful game. It looked for all the world that the game would end in a 0-0 draw but alas, one real piece of quality was the difference yesterday.
Our focus, Ahmed Elmohamady,, was forced to watch from an Egyptian bench that also included Mo Salah. This was because Egypt chose to stick with the right back / right midfield combination of Ahmed Fathy and Amr Warda that got the Pharaohs to Russia.
Fathy was captain in Salah’s absence and put in a very solid display. He was defensively sound and even stung the hands of the Uruguayan keeper’s hand with a fierce first-time drive from the right-hand side.
Warda was Egypt’s biggest threat going forward. He gave the far more experienced Martin Caceres, the Uruguayan left back, a torrid time with his direct running and dogged tracking back. He did come off in the closing stages of the game but, unfortunately for Villa fans, he was replaced by Huddersfield’s Ramadan Sobhi and not our very own Elmo.
This doesn’t mean that the door is closed on Elmo in Russia. Egypt were very solid defensively but didn’t have any real quality going forward. If the Egyptian coach, Hector Cuper, wants to inject some attacking emphasis into the team then Elmo is their best option as he very well adept at going up and down the right flank.
For any of you that have Uruguay in the sweepstake you might not want to get too excited just yet. Gimenez and Godin provided a solid base for the team but the attacking starlets of Suarez and Cavani failed to live up to expectations. Suarez in particular was very poor. They do, however, come up against Saudi Arabia in their next fixture and this may be the perfect game for the strike partnership to sharpen up.
For Egypt, they face the hosts Russia on Tuesday 19th at 19:00 GMT. This game already has the feel of last chance saloon for the Egyptians. With Russia and Uruguay already on 3 points, Egypt must win in order to keep their chances alive. If they do, then they will arguably be favourites to qualify above the hosts as Egypt will face whipping boys Saudi Arabia and Russia will still have to play Uruguay in the final round of fixtures.
Good luck to Egypt and hopefully we will see Elmo in Russia at some point.