Opposition scouting report: How can Egypt beat Uruguay?

Hector Cuper of Egypt Getty

Egypt are back at the World Cup after a 28-year absence, but they begin their 2018 campaign with a tough assignment against a Uruguay side who are favourites to top Group A.

Mohamed Salah is in contention to return to the team after the injury he sustained in Liverpool's Champions League final defeat, but ex-Zambia assistant coach and Queens Park Rangers opposition analyst Irfan Kawri doesn't believe that the superstar forward is the only reason for Egyptian optimism.

In the first in his World Cup series of opposition scouting reports, Kawri analyses how Hector Cuper's side can start their campaign with all three points.

How can Egypt neutralise Uruguay's strengths?

The stand-out performer for Uruguay is one of Salah's predecessors at Liverpool, Luis Suarez, who's a world-class attacker capable of winning matches single-handedly.

He's mobile, aggressive and assertive, but he's also prone to a moment of madness, and has never escaped a World Cup without courting major controversy.

It's imperative that Egypt cut off the supply line to Suarez and his strike partner Edinson Cavani. Uruguay will look to get men behind the ball and feed their superb forwards, and it's vital that Egypt's defensive midfielders - two of Mohamed Elneny, Tarek Hamed and Sam Morsy - ensure the supply lines are cut off.

Hamed, nicknamed the 'Major General', ought to have a key role sitting on the Uruguayan midfield - who aren't known for their creativity - and stifling the support for the forwards.

Egypt's full-backs Ahmed Fathi and Mohamed Abdel-Shafi should remain deeper and not be lured into attacking positions, as this should prevent Uruguay's widemen - perhaps Rodrigo Bentacur and Cristian Rodriguez - from causing trouble down the flanks.

Finally, it would be worth Hector Cuper encouraging his defensive talents to stay tight to Suarez and ensure the forward knows that he has a battle on his hands.

While the Barcelona man relishes a more physical challenge, he's an emotional character who can lose focus if destabilised.

How can Egypt exploit Uruguay's weaknesses?

It's hard to find too many weaknesses in a solid, disciplined Uruguay side with two outstanding forwards in Cavani and Suarez.

Fernando Muslera, while a fine stopper, has been prone to the odd wobble, so Cuper would do well to encourage one of his towering centre-backs - likely Ahmed Hegazy - to ensure the pressure is on the goalkeeper at every set piece.

There's also a lack of creativity in midfield, and Egypt, with their traditionally conservative - if not negative - approach under Cuper should have enough to bog their opponents down in the heart of the park.

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Finally, Egypt should realise that they don't need to defeat Uruguay in order to remain well placed within the group, particularly with the weak duo of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to come.

The Pharaohs would be wise to remain compact - don't expect anything less - and allow Uruguay to come onto them as they seek to assert themselves as group favourites.

The South Americans' desire to take the game to their supposedly 'lesser' opponents could leave space in behind, and, particularly if Salah's fit, it's something that can be exploited.


Unlike many of the other teams in this World Cup, and particularly the teams in Group A, Uruguay aren't a side with major glaring weaknesses and they represent a tough opening assignment for Egypt.

What they lack, however, is creativity in the heart of the park, and considering Egypt's compact, disciplined approach, they stand a decent chance of cutting the supply line to Suarez and Cavani and neutralising their opponents' chief threats.

Frustrate Uruguay, encourage them to press forward, and then allow Salah - if risked - to wreck havoc at the other end.