Mohamed Salah is expected to be fit to start for Egypt in their opening 2018 Russia World Cup game against Uruguay on Friday.
Date: 15 June 2018
Round: Group stage
Kick-off: 20H00 HKT
Venue: Ekaterinburg Arena
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Assistants: Sander van Roekel, Erwin Zeinstra
Fourth official: Milorad Mazic
Fifth Official: Milovan Ristic
Egypt 0-2 Uruguay (16/08/06) Friendly
Egypt goalscorers: Diego Godin (67′), Abdelzaher El Saqqa (OG 77′)
Players to watch
Salah, who will celebrate his 26th birthday on the day of the game, is undoubtedly Egypt’s main man despite the Liverpool’s striker struggles to overcome the dislocated shoulder he sustained in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.
The Pharaohs star man dragged his side through qualifying with five goals and will be key to their tournament hopes despite head coach Hector Cuper playing down the importance of the forward, saying “our tactics don’t solely revolve around him”.
For Uruguay, look no further than Luis Suarez, who remains a key man for La Celeste. He has 51 goals in 98 games for his country, and alongside Edinson Cavani (42 in 101) they will be looking to inflict some damage on the Egyptian defence.
Team form and manager quotes
Cuper’s side haven’t won in six games since Salah’s double over the Congo saw them secure their place at the quadrennial competition.
Draws with Ghana, Kuwait and Colombia have come alongside defeats to Portugal and Greece, while they enter the tournament after losing 3-0 to Belgium.
Oscar Tabarez’s side, meanwhile, drew with Poland and lost to Austria ahead of successive wins over the Czech Republic, Wales and Uzbekistan in their friendly matches after qualification.
Ahead of the game, Cuper said: “Salah is doing very well indeed, he’s recovered very quickly. We’ll see how it goes today. We’ll see how it goes today. I can almost assure you 100 per cent he’ll play.
“We’re trying to make him feel confident. The doctors are giving him the option to play or not.
“I know him very well, and I’m sure he’s not afraid.
The manager added: “A risk of playing a match is something we can’t hide. In terms of him on the pitch, he’ll have full guarantees. If we do see at the last minute there’s an issue, we’ll see if it can be resolved.
“Salah has three training sessions per day. He does training with the doctors, by himself and with specific exercises.”
Tabarez added: “We have plenty of information about Egypt; we have been following them for a long time. No doubt you have to highlight their striker Mohamed Salah as their star.
“Cuper is a very good coach, enjoys a lot of prestige and was chosen by UEFA as the best coach of the year in 2000.”
Salah will be monitored until kick-off but should start for Egypt, while defender Ali Gabr is in contention despite bruising his face in training.
Uruguay have a clean bill of health with Goalkeeper and captain Essam El Hadary set to become the oldest player in World Cup history at 45-years-old when he steps out for this game.