Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Egypt vs Uruguay: 5 key players that will decide the game

Egypt vs Uruguay: 5 key players that will decide the game

Two-time champions Uruguay begin their FIFA World Cup 2018 campaign against Egypt in a Group A clash in Ekaterinburg on Friday, June 15.

Uruguay´s deserved last-gasp victory leaves them and Russian Federation in early control in Group A after the hosts´ 5-0 mauling of Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener on Thursday. The Africans had been without injured key striker Mohamed Salah but defended resolutely.

Egypt's Mohamed Salah was kept on the bench throughout the Group A encounter, which was uneventful before a late surge from Uruguay. The 62-year-old Argentine Cuper added: "Salah is very good and he's recovered very quickly".

Salah suffered an injury in the Champions League final in late May, and his status for the World Cup was questionable heading into the tournament.

Egypt will need him to be at or near his best to go through to the next round. But Egypt defended like their hair was on fire, and with the match still scoreless with less then 10 minutes to play, the Argentine coach brought on forward Ramadan Sobhy as his third and final substitute.

It was each side's first group game of the World Cup, and Suarez will have been relieved to see Gimenez steal all three points.

"Salah is a big, decisive player and we prepare ourselves in the same way whether he is [playing] or not."

Despite the loss, Egypt - in their first World Cup for 28 years - matched their opponents for large spells and defended stoutly.

- This was Oscar Tabarez's 16th World Cup match in charge of Uruguay - only one manager has managed more matches for a South American country at the World Cup (Mario Zagallo for Brazil, 20 games). Their first choice centre backs consist of the impeccable Atletico Madrid duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, and they balance that out with the world class talents of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front. It wasn't close to Uruguay's best performance as a youthful midfield struggled to create, and Luis Suarez wasn't himself.

Egypt's Group A schedule kicks off on June 15 against Uruguay, followed by Russian Federation on June 19 and Saudi Arabia on June 25.

Asked about Salah's chances of starring at the tournament, Cuper said: "Why not?"

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