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'We did not wish to face Egypt at World Cup group stage,' says Saudi Arabia skipper Hawsawi

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Saturday 2 Dec 2017
File Photo: Saudi captain Osama Hawsawi has experience of playing abroad. (Photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia skipper Osama Hawsawi says he wishes his team had not been drawn with Egypt in the 2018 World Cup group stage, though he added that facing hosts Russia at the prestigious tournament opener will be a special experience.

The Pharaohs were paired with Saudi Arabia, hosts Russia and South American powerhouse Uruguay in Group A following Friday's World Cup draw in Moscow.

"Our group is a difficult one, but nothing is impossible," Hawsawi was quoted as saying by Saudi newspaper Arriyadiyah after the draw.

"We did not wish to face Egypt, but this is football," added Hawsawi, who plays as a defender for Saudi side Al-Hilal.

Egypt, which will make its first World Cup appearance since 1990, will open their campaign against two-time winners Uruguay on 15 June before meeting Russia four days later, and will conclude their Group A campaign against Saudi Arabia on 25 June.

Saudi Arabia, which last appeared in the world cup in 2006, will be facing hosts Russia in the tournament's opener on 14 June.

"I am happy to face Russia at the opening game, as all attention will be on the host country," said the 33-year-old player.

"All the teams that reached the finals are strong and there won't be easy matches in Russia," he concluded.

The only familiar face for Egypt in Group A is Saudi Arabia, which they have previously met in six FIFA-sanctioned matches.

Although Egypt won four games and drew once in six meetings against the fellow Arab country, their only defeat by the Saudis was a painful 5-1 loss in the group stage of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.

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