Egypt keeper El-Shennawi steals limelight with man-of-the-match display

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Jun 2018,
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Shenawy
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Egypt vs Uruguay - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 15, 2018 Uruguay's Luis Suarez is dispossessed by Egypt's Mohamed El-Shenawy as he attempts to dribble past REUTERS

Any doubts over who should be Egypt's first-choice keeper at the World Cup were dispelled after Mohamed El-Shennawi stunned observers with an impressive showing in Friday's last-gasp 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in their Group A opener.

Few would have expected El-Shennawi to start against Uruguay, let alone produce a man-of-the-match performance. However, many were also skeptical that veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary, 45, would be able to put in an assured display between the sticks, given that he was criticized lately for some poor reflex saves.

Hadary was still tipped to play and beat a record for the oldest player to appear at a World Cup but Egypt coach Hector Cuper eventually opted to field the novice El-Shennawi, who looked shaky in recent friendly games.

The 29-year-old rose to the occasion on his competitive debut, pulling off some great saves to thwart deadly marksmen Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

He made the first impressive stop early in the second half, blocking a goal-bound shot from Barcelona's Suarez with his leg.

He then clawed away a rasping volley from Cavani with a sublime one-handed save and dived at the feet of Suarez to deny him in a one-on-one.

"This match was important for El-Shennawi because he will now gain confidence and believe that he deserves to be the first-choice keeper," former Tottenham Hotspur striker Mido, who is now a television pundit, said in his post-game analysis for beIN Sports.

Former Egypt defender Wael Gomaa agreed. "It has been a while since we had a clear number one in the goalkeeping position. It has been settled today," he said.

El-Shennawi is now likely to retain his place in Tuesday's clash against hosts Russia.

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