It’s only 6 months until World Cup 2018 finally kicks off and we could not be more excited. As Russia gears up to host what is sure to be a thrilling contest, we’ll soon be turning to the OG teams and weighing up their chances of glory this summer. For now, though, it’s time to concentrate on one of the final wild cards of our series.
This country is making a triumphant return to the tournament after a 28 year break. They’ve won the African Cup of Nations many times, but their World Cup record isn’t so great. The team has only managed to qualify for 2 of the previous contests (1934 and 1990) and they failed to win a game in either. Things could be different this year, though. They’ve bagged themselves a passionate Argentinian manager and some of their players have been making waves in English club football.
So where are we headed? Well, they’re nicknamed “The Pharaohs” and one of their team members, if selected, could set the record for being the oldest player in a World Cup match (the honour!).
That’s right, we’re getting to know… Egypt!
Location: Egypt is a transcontinental country, its territory situated in the northeastern corner of Africa and the southwest of Asia.
Capital City: Cairo
Official Language: Arabic
Famous for: One of the oldest civilizations in the world and incredible landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza.
Fun Fact: It’s estimated that if you chopped the Great Pyramid into 12 inch cubes and attached them end-to-end, it’d be long enough to circle the moon almost 3 times!
Road to the World Cup
As you might imagine, Egypt finally securing a place in the World Cup after a 28 year drought was very emotional for players and fans alike. Not only that, but they qualified in a pretty dramatic fashion. In their penultimate game as part of Africa Group E, Egypt were up against Congo. They were drawing 1-1 until the final minute of extra time, when the referee awarded them a penalty. Star player Mohamed Salah smashed the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net. Egypt had sealed the deal with a game in hand.
Manager Hector Cuper has received criticism for his heavily defensive approach to games. Indeed, Egypt’s defense is incredibly hard to penetrate—in 30 games under Cuper, only once has an opposition managed to score more than one goal against them. It might not be the most exciting tactic, but topping their qualification group with a game to spare is a pretty good endorsement of the manager!
Check out the emotional moment Egypt qualified here:
Players to Watch
Egypt’s star player is also a pretty big deal in the Premier League, where he’s a striker for Liverpool. Salah was his country’s top scorer in the World Cup qualifications, establishing himself as a vital component of their winning strategy. Known for his fast pace and impressive dribbling skills, he’s even been nicknamed the “Egyptian Messi”. An obvious pick this summer, if you ask us!
Mahmoud Hassan (Trézéguet)
The young midfielder, also known as Trézéguet, would make a sound choice for any fantasy team. He doesn’t get as much attention as Salah (so sometimes falls under the radar a bit) but his consistent record and youth makes him a solid pick. Outside of his national duties, he garners significant club interest, and is currently on loan from Belgian club Anderlecht to Turkish club Kasımpaşa.
The current Egyptian national team actually boasts a number of Premier League players. Hegazi currently plays for West Brom. A solid defender, he was snapped up permanently by Albion in December, after they initially had him on loan from Egyptian club Al Ahly. The move to make him a permanent fixture was not surprising—Hegazi scored the winning goal and was named man of the match in his debut appearance for the team. Not bad for a centre-back!
Elneny is currently a defensive midfielder representing Arsenal. He previously had a considerable career at Basel—the club actually won the Swiss Super League in all four seasons he was with them. Coincidence? We think not. He’s been a fixture on the international circuit for many years now. We’d say he’s definitely worth taking a DFS chance on in June.
Manager: Hector Cuper
FIFA Ranking: 31
Yes, Egypt have landed themselves in the host’s group. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it means they’ll be playing early and so are likely to be in the spotlight from the off.
What They Have Going for Them
- Egypt are one of the best (if not the best) teams in Africa. Sure, their World Cup record isn’t great, but they’ve won a number of other accolades and boast some big players on the world football scene.
- Their fans are incredibly passionate. YouTube is filled with videos of supporters being completely overwhelmed with emotion in reaction to Egypt finally qualifying for a World Cup again. Having this level of support behind them should drive the team to do their very best to excel in the competition.
28 years is a long time to wait to prove your credentials as a world class team. Egypt certainly seem ready and raring to go. Strong manager, top players and the faith of legions of loyal fans—we’re excited to see how The Pharaohs perform in Russia 2018! حظ سعيد!
Still craving some World Cup preparation? Make sure you’ve checked out some of the teams new to the competition, like Iceland and Panama. Now’s also a great time to persuade your mates to get into DFS—that way you can have your own tournament set up by the time the World Cup officially kicks off!
For all the latest DFS news and tips, keep checking in with DailyFantasyUK!