Egypt will face off with Uruguay in their maiden 2018 Fifa World Cup Group A match at the Yekaterinburg Stadium in Russia on Friday.
Kick-off is at 12pm GMT
The Pharaohs are set to make their first appearance in the World Cup finals since 1990 having failed to qualify for the last six global tournaments.
They reached this year’s finals after winning their qualifying group which included Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville as well as African giants Ghana.
Mohamed Salah, who is on the books of English giants Liverpool FC, played an instrumental role in helping the Pharaohs qualify for the World Cup.
The speedy forward scored the most goals (five) in the third round of qualifying, including a stoppage-time penalty to give Egypt a dramatic 2-1 win over Congo-Brazzaville which secured the Pharaohs’ place in this year’s finals.
The Pharaohs, who have won a record seven Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) titles, will take on a formidable Uruguay side in their first Group A match, but they will be determined to start their group-stage campaign with a victory.
Egypt head coach Hector Cuper, who has been in charge of the team since March 2015, is confident that his side can stun the South American giants.
“The Uruguay national team have a strong attacking line-up in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani,” Cuper said.
“But our players have the desire and enthusiasm to play an excellent match,” he Argentine tactician concluded.
The North African giants have been boosted by Salah’s return to full training. The 25-year-old, who has been out nursing a shoulder injury, and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny are the Pharaohs’ key players.
CAVANI, SUAREZ KEY FOR URUGUAY
Meanwhile, Uruguay will be making their third consecutive appearance in the World Cup having reached the semifinals and Last 16 in South Africa and Brazil respectively.
The Sky Blue have booked their place in the finals after finishing second on the South American qualifying standings – 10 points behind group winners Brazil.
Edinson Cavani, who plies his trade in France for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain (PSG), was very influential during Uruguay’s qualifying campaign as he scored the most goals (10).
His deadly strike-partner, Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona in Spain, hit the back of the net five times and the two attackers will be key to Uruguay’s hopes in Russia.
Uruguay are the most decorated team in South American football history having won the Copa America 15 times. They won the World Cup twice in 1930 and 1950.
Their coach Oscar Tabárez has been in charge of the team since 2006 and the Uruguayan trainer knows what to expect from the Pharaohs.
“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,” Tabárez said.
“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,” he concluded.
In head-to-head stats, according to Fifa.com, Egypt and Uruguay have clashed on one occasion with the latter team winning 2-0 in a friendly match which was played in Alexandria in August 2006.