Preview: Favorites Egypt look for a winning start in World Cup qualifiers against Djibouti

Ahram Online , Wednesday 15 Nov 2023

Egypt will start its 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign with an easy test against Djibouti at Cairo Stadium on Thursday as the Pharaohs will be aiming to secure a strong start in the qualifiers with a logical win.

Egypt national team afp
Egypt national team afp


"Winning the game will be important for us, as debuts are always crucial to gain confidence," Arsenal Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny told the pre-match news conference on Wednesday.

He stressed that the Pharaohs are expected to deliver a strong performance, sending a warning message to all opponents in the group that they are determined to top the group and qualify for the World Cup.

On paper, Egypt is widely favorite to win the game due to the significant difference in quality between the two teams.

Liverpool's ace Mohamed Salah, along with his teammates such as Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny, FC Nantes top scorer Mostafa Mohamed, and in-form Frankfurt winger Omar Marmoush, are prepared to lead the Pharaohs against Djibouti, currently ranked 189th in this month FIFA rankings.

While Egypt should not encounter any major problems against Djibouti, Pharaohs coach Rui Vitoria has urged his players to take the game seriously to avoid surprises, which are common in the world of football.

"We should respect all opponents," Vitoria said during the pre-match news conference. "I have witnessed many instances where favorites have lost against smaller teams."

Vitoria gained a boost of confidence last month when the 10-man Egyptian side held Algeria to a draw in a friendly match in the UAE.

This result, coupled with a strong performance against a tough opponent like Algeria, reassured the Egyptians about their national team after a 3-1 loss to Tunisia in a friendly match in Cairo last September.

According to Vitoria, his team is ready for the clash against Djibouti on Thursday and the subsequent away match against Sierra Leone just 72 hours later.

His strategy is to win all possible games to accomplish their mission of reaching the World Cup.

The winners of each group among the nine groups will earn a direct ticket to the World competition.

The four best group runners-up will participate in playoffs to determine which team will advance to the inter-confederation playoffs.

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