FILE: Ahmed Fathi's own goal opened the score for the Russian who knocked out Egypt of the 2018 World Cup
CAIRO – 21 June 2018: After nearly a three-decade hiatus, Egyptian national team qualified for the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but exited it after losing its first two World Cup appearances; the overwhelming state of boisterousness for the do-or-die Russian game eventually turned into a nation-wide misery.
Mina Sobhi, a Upper Egyptian, recounted to Egypt Today how despair started to sneak into people's hearts after the Russians' second goal.
“People started to leave the Café after the second goal was scored; we lost all hope that we could get back to the game and apparently the players also were wearing off,” Mina added. “Fathi’s goal was one of the reasons why we lost hope.”
Fathi’s own goal snaps out the dialogue:
“After Fathi’s goal, I was left certain that the game is not ours anymore. Usually with Cuper, we are not capable of making comebacks,” Ahmed Abdel Aal, a civil engineer told Egypt Today. “Still, Ahmed Fathi is one of the best players in Egyptian football's history.”
The score line for Russians opened with a self-inflicted goal from player Ahmed Fathi; then the Russians managed to take control of the game and started to make use of the leaky defense.
Agreeing with Abdel Aal, Mohamed Sultan, general practitioner, said that Fathi is considered the most important player of the current generation.
“There is grief taking over the masses over Fathi being one of the reasons for our loss. However; Fathi occupies a place in the hearts of the Egyptian soccer enthusiasts and is a player of a great defensive record,” Sultan added to Egypt Today.
“I take issue with [Egyptian team’s coach] Cuper’s style of managing a game; he insists on focusing on defense, which makes the players so weak in attack and we do have many quality attackers in the team. I think if we managed to remain focused like the first half, we could have won.”
Ahmed Osama, a mechanical engineer, applauded Fathi’s career, contending that he has achieved a lot and is advantageous to the national team. “I wish he could have a better end to his playing career with the team.”
“We had the lout boots over the Russians in the first half and only 10-minutes of poor performance resulted in naively-scored goals,” Osama said, adding that Cuper is already beloved by the players and this covers up for many of his frailties; he has had good spell with the team.
Ahmed Amin, a social media marketer, who has traveled to Russia to support the Pharaos, said that he was so upset with Cuper and not Ahmed Fathi.
“I traveled at my own expense and so did most Egyptians here,” Amin added.” I will leave Russia the day after our clash with Saudi Arabia .”
Celebrities’ delegation’s repercussions:
Amin further denounced the celebrities’ presence in the same hotel where the team was lodging in Russia.
“What occurred in the team’s camp was a complete mess! The boisterousness that took place on the night before Egypt’s clash with Russia was totally misplaced and distracting to the players,” he added.
A few days before the decisive game, a number of celebrities and media figures landed in Russia to support the national team, which sparked the anger of many critics and commentators for it having bad effect on the players’ focus.
The presence of the celebrities always backfires, as similar incidents occurred in the 2010 World Cup qualifier game between Algeria and Egypt in Omderman in Sudan and the 1990 Italy.
Sports radio presenter and anchor Ibrahim Fayek called for immediate interference to stop the “unfathomable” hassle going on in the team’s camp.
Later on Monday and on their official Facebook page, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) stated that the delegation is not interrupting the preparations in the team’s camp.
The Egyptians lost the first game of the group stage to Uruguay with a +90 goal, while Russia managed to thrash the Saudi team in the opening of the tournament with five goals with no reply.
Following Uruguay’s win over Saudi Arabia, Russia and Uruguay have officially qualified for the round of 16, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are knocked out of the World Cup.