Africa’s quest for a first ever World Cup glory started on the wrong footing as one of her 2018 Russia hopefuls Egypt fell 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening Group A fixture at Yekaterinburg Stadium Friday.
With their talisman Mohammed Salah rested as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury, Egypt resorted to a defensive approach to the game.
And for the larger chunk of the highly entertaining match, the Pharaohs exhibited superb defending qualities to keep at arm’s length marauding Uruguayan strikers Louis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohammed Elshenawy, who was voted the man of the match and the skipper Ahmed Fathi were particularly outstanding at the back – making incredible saves and clearing any lingering danger to keep the coach Hector Cuper’s side in the game.
The game ended in a barren draw at the breather. In the second half, the South Americans showed more intent and purpose as they attacked consistently.
But still they could not break the solid defense of the Egyptians up-to the 90th minute when Atletico Madrid’s central defender Jose Gimenez powered home a unstoppable header that settled the game.
With only added minutes to play, Egypt’s was clearly headed for a 1-0 defeat in their return to the biggest global sporting platform in 28-years.
But all is not lost for them as they still have three games against Russia and Saudi Arabia.
In another game of the day involving an African hopeful, Morocco will take on Iran in the opening Group B match in St. Petersbugh.