After qualifying for the first time since 1990, Egypt came into this tournament with potential and hoping to make their 28-year wait well worth it, Egypt completely fell apart. They finished at the bottom of their group, losing all three of their games. In their history, Egypt has yet to win a game in a World Cup tournament.
Egypt got off to a solid start despite narrowly losing to Uruguay 1-0 with Mohamed Salah being out due to a shoulder injury. Egypt’s defense looked very solid in their opening game, as they were well-organized and they were able to fend off Uruguay’s scoring threat in Luis Suarez.
Uruguay scored via a header off a corner kick in the 89th minute to upset the Egyptians. Egypt’s attack did their best, but Uruguay’s defense was able to contain them. A total of three saves were made from each team’s goalkeeper. While Egypt came up short, they played valiantly without Salah.
It was in their next game against Russia where Egypt fell apart. Egypt played well in the first half, but just two minutes into the second half, things began to spiral out of control for Egypt as an own-goal put Russia ahead.
12 minutes later, Egypt’s deficit fell to two goals and three minutes later it fell to three. Salah played the entire game and did put Egypt on the scoring board via a penalty kick, but his efforts were simply not enough. A loss to the Russians and with Uruguay beating Saudi Arabia, Egypt was officially eliminated from the tournament.
Egypt’s last match was against Saudi Arabia. As both teams were out of contention, there was still one thing to play for: pride. This was Egypt’s last chance to win their first World Cup game and return home with at least one thing to be proud of.
It didn’t happen.
Salah scored in the 22nd minute, giving Egypt their first ever lead in a World Cup game. Egypt held the lead until stoppage time of the first half when the Saudis equalized. The second half went back and forth with solid play from both sides, but the Saudis miraculously pulled off a win with a goal in the closing minutes of the game.
It’s obvious the team was unable to handle the pressure as they cracked under its’ intense weight. Lack of concentration and team chemistry really hurt the team. They didn’t seem to have useful game tactics and they were unable to take control. At times, it was clear the players were not on the same page. Overall, the team looked very lost and couldn’t find a way out of each predicament they got themselves into.
While it’s unfortunate that Egypt’s run in Russia was a failure, it’s unfair for Salah to apologize. He shouldn’t have been expected to carry the team on his back. It’s a team effort and the Egyptian squad failed as a team. In other words, the entire team needs to take responsibility for the failure, not just Salah.
But that’s not the worst part.
There are reports that Salah is considering quitting the national team. It’s not 100 percent clear why, but sources indicate it involves a political row.
The future of Egypt’s soccer team doesn’t look so bright at the moment.