2018 World Cup – Group A preview: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay & Egypt

Group A at the 2018 World Cup will function a Russian team on the lookout to stay clear of the shame of an initially-spherical exit, although Egypt will be hopeful of advancing in their initial appearance at the event in almost 3 decades.

Hosts Russia will open the event and the team with a clash against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on 14 June. Although it is barely the most engaging of opening matches for these a significant event, it is a crucial clash for the Russians, who will need to have a sturdy start off to ease fears that they will stick in the footsteps of South Africa in 2010 and come to be just the 2nd host nation to fall at the initial hurdle.

South American heavyweights Uruguay appear to be the dominant pressure in the team, with Oscar Tabarez’s facet 2nd to only Brazil in the notoriously complicated CONMEBOL qualifying event. Boasting the likes of Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, two-time champions ‘La Celeste’ have a very good combination of youth and encounter and ought to have no issues ending in the major two.

The team most likely to join Uruguay in advancing could properly be Egypt. The North Africans are returning to the World Cup for the initially time since 1990, but they have a talented, multipurpose team and a manager in Hector Cuper whose pragmatism is properly suited to the do-or-die mother nature of event football.

But the query mark above the fitness of talisman Mohamed Salah is a significant worry, with the Liverpool man in a race against time to be suited for the finals immediately after suffering a severe shoulder personal injury in the UEFA Champions League remaining the final month.

Saudi Arabia is returning to the World Cup immediately after lacking the final editions in 2010 and 2014, and their reliable displaying in qualifying (they finished runners-up to Asian powerhouses Japan in their team) indicates they are not to be underestimated. The Eco-friendly Falcons are capable of disheartening a lot more talented groups, but they lack the real attacking potency necessary to contend at the maximum amount.

Group A fixtures (all times CAT)

14 June 2018, 17h00 – Russia v Saudi Arabia – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

15 June 2018, 14h00 – Egypt v Uruguay – Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

19 June 2018, 20h00 – Russia v Egypt – Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

20 June 2018, 17h00 – Uruguay v Saudi Arabia – Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

25 June 2018, 16h00 – Uruguay v Russia – Cosmos Arena, Samara

25 June 2018, 16h00 – Saudi Arabia v Egypt – Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Group A head-to-heads (as per FIFA stats databases, in reference to ‘home’ team)

Russia v Saudi Arabia – P1 W0 D0 L1 GF2 GA4

Egypt v Uruguay – P1 W0 D L1 GF0 GA2

Russia v Egypt – No preceding matches

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia – P2 W0 D1 L1 GF3 GA4

Uruguay v Russia – P8 W1 D2 L5 GF5 GA14

Saudi Arabia v Egypt – P6 W1 D1 L4 GF7 GA19


Sakala leaves Zanaco to Saudi Arabia – 2017 FAZ Super League

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Tuesday Aug 08, 2017. 12:30

Zanaco midfielder Saith Sakala has joined Saudi Arabian Premiership side, Al-Fateh on a five year deal.

Zambian reports suggest that the midfielder, who previously had a stint in Israel, will battle it out in the Saudi Arabian league with former Zesco United striker Idriss Mbombo.

Mbombo is on the roster of another Saudi Arabia top side, Al-Shaba and according to Zanaco boss, Edward Mutale, Sakala will sign the contract once he passes his medicals.


“Saith Sakala is waiting for his ticket from the club in Saudi Arabia. He is supposed to undergo his medicals either in Saudi Arabia or Turkey, where the club is camped for pre-season training,” Mutale said to the Daily Mail.

“Once he passes his medicals, he will sign a five-year contract.

“We are almost done with everything, we are just waiting for them to send some documents.

“We are happy that the young man, Sakala is leaving the country with our blessings.

“We are confident he will excel in Saudi Arabia because he is an intelligent and disciplined player.

“At Zanaco, we give players opportunities to excel in their careers.”

It is reported that Sakala attracted interest from a number of overseas clubs following his impressive performance in the 2017 CAF Champions League.

Sakala scored two goals in the continental competition where Zanaco were eliminated in the group stage.

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Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary in talks with Saudi Arabia club

Essam El Hadary of Egypt celebrates after saving Bertrand Traore of Burkina Faso penalty in shootout during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon semifinal football match between Burkina Faso and Egypt at the Libreville Stadium in Gabon on 01 February 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Saturday Jun 17, 2017. 11:00

News reports in Egypt have revealed that Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is currently in talks with Saudi Arabian side Al-Taawoun.

The experienced net minder could be on his way to the Saudi league as he recently expressed interest in plying his trade in the Arabian country.

Latest reports indicate that the Saudi Football Federation has since decided to allow clubs to buy foreign goalkeepers as part of their non-domestic four players list.

This move by the SFF has sparked interest in the 44-year-old as he expressed his approval of this decision, saying he is open to considering any offer from the Saudi league.

According to the report, the club aims to sign the Pharaohs legend to join the team in an expensive deal that will be backed by Al-Taawoun’s supporter Turki Al-Alshikh.

The former Al Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily goalkeeper, who had an important role in helping Egypt reach the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon, has not made his decision yet.

However, rumours also suggest he could be moving to Egyptian Premier League second-placed Misr El-Maqassa, which was denied by El-Maqassa’s president.

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Egyptian goalkeeping legend Essam El-Hadary wants to play in Saudi Arabia

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Jun 16, 2017. 17:00

Egyptian goalkeeping legend Essam El-Hadary has expressed his interest in a Jameel League move after the Saudi Football Federation decided on a new policy regarding goalkeepers.

It is reported that the SFF has decided to allow clubs to buy foreign goalkeepers as part of the non-domestic four players list.

In the wake of that decision, El-Hadary has since expressed his approval of this decision, saying this step will not harm the Saudi National Team nor the Saudi League.


Speaking to MBC Pro Sports, the 44-year-old believes the decision will help goalkeepers to develop.

“All European leagues allow clubs to buy foreign goalkeepers. This is a perfect opportunity for goalkeepers to gain experience and develop,” said El-Hadary to MBC Pro Sports.

“After this decision, I’m open to consider any offer from the Saudi league. If the suitable offer arrives, why not hang my gloves in Saudi Arabia?.”

The veteran keeper could add to four Egyptian internationals who plied trades in Saudi Arabia last season such as Sherif Hazem, Ahmed Magdy, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy and Mahmoud Abdel Moneim ‘Kahraba’.

The former Zamalek goalkeeper has 153 international caps for the Pharaohs and was part of the squad at the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

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