Cairo, Dec 2: Egyptians are now nearly equally divided between optimists and pessimists after the World Cup draw brought their national football team together with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia in the group phase.
On Friday, the draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was held in the concert hall at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, reports Xinhua news agency.
Host Russia will play Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the championship on June 14, 2018.
Playing in Group A, Egypt is set to kick off their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on June 15 before playing Russia four days later. They will meet Saudi Arabia in the last group game on June 25.
“We have a good chance to qualify to the next stage…I guess we will come second after Uruguay,” 38-year-old Adel al-Sisi, a businessmen from Cairo told Xinhua.
Russia has its advantage as the host, but logically and professionally Egypt is stronger, he added.
“I trust our players as most of them play in big European teams, but the coach has to change his defensive style and use attacking techniques,” Sisi said proudly.
Unlike Sisi, Peter kamal, a computer engineer from Giza province near Ciaro, believes that the Egyptian fans’ high expectations could not change the fact that Egypt’s chances to qualify for the last 16 are “very limited.”
“I hope we make it, but the chances are not really big,” Kamal said.
“Uruguay and Russia have much more chances…Uruguay are very strong; the Russians host the World Cup and will play home.”
Kamal noted that the Egyptian team has high-quality world-class players such as Liverpool’s striker Mohammed Salah and Aresnal’s midfielder Mohammed al-Neny, “but the Argentinean manager of national team, Hector Cuper, does not know how to use their skills in the field.”
He believes that the defensive style Cuper adopts does not help against big teams like Uruguay “which have Barcelona striker Luis Suarez and Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.”
“We need more luck than good performance to reach the next stage,” he said.
The opinions are also divided among football experts in Egypt.
Former national team star Ahmed Hossam, publicly known as Mido, manager of Egyptian Wadi Degla football club, told Xinhua that “Egypt’s group is very complicated.”
“Hosts Russia have motives to win…Uruguay are very strong with players who have great experience in European leagues,” said Mido, who played for Ajax Amsterdam, Celta Vigo and Olympique de Marseille in early 2000s.
Ahmed al-Kas, an Egyptian football manager who also played with Egypt in their second appearance in the World Cup, said it is possible that Egypt can make it to next stage.
Al-Kas said that Cuper’s defensive style can help the team win the games in the group stage.
“I cannot say the group is easy for Egypt, but all teams, including Egypt, will fight to advance to further stages,” he added.
Egypt qualified for the finals after claiming Africa’s group E top spot of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.
This is Egypt’s third World Cup appearance as they qualified in 1934 and 1990, but they never entered the last 16.