GROUP A

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - EGYPT RUS­SIA SAUDI ARA­BIA URUGUAY STEVE MIL­LAR

Group stage (1990)

45 Hector Cu­per Mo Salah. Liver­pool’s Egyp­tian king is the ruler of this team and the en­tire coun­try is pray­ing he can start the tour­na­ment af­ter his shoul­der in­jury in the Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal. Egypt des­per­ately need Salah to be at the top of his game to shoot them into the knock­out stages. Last 16 Egypt can sti­fle teams and are well-or­gan­ised de­fen­sively. But they are hugely de­pen­dent on Salah and need other play­ers to weigh in. Fourth (1966)

70 Stanislav Cherch­esov Igor Ak­in­feev. Cap­tain of both his na­tional team and CSKA Moscow, he is re­garded as Rus­sia’s only world-class ta­lent. Ak­in­feev (be­low) dreamed of be­ing a goal­keeper when his dad en­rolled him in CSKA’s sports school at the age of four and has gone on to win six ti­tles and six Rus­sian cups. Group They may be hosts but they will have lit­tle to cel­e­brate at the World Cup party. Rus­sia go into the tour­na­ment with a lack­lus­tre man­ager in Cherch­esov and a be­low av­er­age side not ca­pa­ble of pro­gress­ing. Round of 16 (1994)

67 Juan An­to­nio Pizzi Osama Haw­sawi. The cap­tain is a cool and cal­cu­lated cen­tral de­fender for Al-Hi­lal. He made his in­ter­na­tional de­but just af­ter the 2006 World Cup and now has more than 130 caps. He is com­mand­ing in the air but at 34 has slowed down dra­mat­i­cally. Group Just there to make up the num­bers. Saudi Ara­bia qual­i­fied in Septem­ber but within two months they made two coach­ing changes. Could beat the hosts but will then crash to Egypt and Uruguay. Win­ners (1930, 1950) 14 Os­car Tabarez Luis Suarez. When he’s not in the side, Uruguay look weak. With the Barcelona ge­nius (right) in it is a dif­fer­ent story. He is their go-to goal man and his in­cred­i­ble work ethic is a mas­sive in­spi­ra­tion to team-mates. Goal­keeper Fer­nando Muslera said: “He’s the best No.9 in the world – and our leader.” Quar­ter-Fi­nals This will be a last shot at glory for many of the he­roes who de­fied the odds by reach­ing the semi-fi­nals in 2010. They will be eye­ing a run to the last four but won’t get it. Should be one bust-up.

World Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ances: Best per­for­mance: World rank­ing: Coach: One to watch: Pre­dic­tion: Ver­dict: World Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ances: Best per­for­mance: World rank­ing: Coach: One to watch: World Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ances: Best per­for­mance: World...

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