Egypt drawn with Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia in 2018 World Cup

Hatem Maher , Friday 1 Dec 2017

Brazil's former defender Cafu displays the slip of Egypt during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1, 2017. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held from June 14 and July 15, 2018, in 11 Russian cities. (Photo: AFP)

Egypt can fancy their chances of advancing to the last 16 on their first World Cup appearance in 28 years after they were drawn with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at next year's finals.

The Pharaohs could have hardly hoped for a better outcome to Friday's draw that took place at the State Kremlin Palace in the heart of Moscow as they make their first appearance in the football's most prestigious showpiece since 1990.

They will open their campaign against two-time winners Uruguay on Friday 15 June before meeting Russia four days later and concluding their Group A campaign against Saudi Arabia on 25 June.

The only familiar face for Egypt is Saudi Arabia, having met their Arab rivals in six FIFA-sanctioned matches.

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

Egypt met Uruguay in a 2006 friendly in Alexandria, losing 2-0 to a team whose attack was spearheaded by former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan, who was present at the draw ceremony in Moscow.

They have not met Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

"We can, God willing," Egypt's versatile midfielder Mahmoud Trezeguet, who earned the decisive penalty which Mohamed Salah converted to lift the team to the World Cup following a 2-1 qualifying win over Congo in October, said on Twitter after the draw was concluded.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny also sounded optimistic, mentioning Uruguay's famous trio Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Godin on Twitter.

"Get ready for the Pharaohs. We are not just 11 players , we are 100 million," he told them.

Egypt only made two World Cup appearances in 1934 and 1990, both in Italy.

They were the first African team to take part in the global showpiece but exited the 1934 tournament after a 4-2 defeat by Hungary.

Fifty-six years later, they stunned then European champions the Netherlands with a 1-1 draw but a bore 0-0 draw with Ireland and a 1-0 defeat by England condemned them to a group-stage exit.

Egypt are hoping they can go further this time around, having demonstrated great defensive capabilities during their qualifying campaign although Argentinean boss Hector Cuper was heavily criticised for what many deem the team's lack of entertaining football.

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