Tuesday, November 14, 2017



Pedigree: Egypt are currently 30th in Fifa's world rankings - one place below the Netherlands. Having missed out on the 2010 and 2014 competitions after play-off defeats, they qualified for Russia when Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored an injury-time winner against Congo on 8 October. Their last notable success at a major tournament was in 2010, when they lifted the Africa Cup of Nations for the seventh time.

Key player: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool's major summer signing, is Egypt's most talented player. The speedy forward has scored 32 goals in 56 international appearances, including five during qualifying for Russia.

Premier League players: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ahmed Hegazy (West Brom), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke),

Championship players: Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa).
League One players: Sam Morsy (Wigan).

Manager: Argentinian Hector Cuper, who previously coached Valencia and Inter Milan, was appointed in March 2015. He also managed Georgia between 2008 and 2009. His only major tournament was the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations - where Egypt were defeated 2-1 in the final by Cameroon.


Pedigree: Morocco will be making their first appearance at a World Cup finals in 20 years next summer. In 1998 in France, a win, a draw and a defeat was not enough for them to qualify from the group stage. They have managed this feat just once in four attempts at finals, in Mexico in 1986 when they reached the last 16, where they were beaten 1-0 by eventual runners-up West Germany.

Key player: He has not been a regular with club side Juventus this season (there is some stiff competition there at the back) but defender Medhi Benatia is extremely highly rated at the Italian champions, who signed him on a permanent deal from Bayern Munich this year following a successful loan spell. The 30-year-old is Morocco's captain and has 52 caps to his name, five of which came during a 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in which they did not concede a goal. He also scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win over Ivory Coast that sealed their place in Russia.

Premier League players: Sofiane Boufal (Southampton)

Championship players: Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Manager:  Frenchman Herve Renard has had something of a nomadic coaching career since retiring from playing in 1998. One of his early roles was as boss of Cambridge United, who he joined in the summer of 2004 and left 25 games later with the club second bottom of League Two. Since then he has won the Africa Cup of Nations twice, with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015. After an unsuccessful stint as Lille boss, he took over as Morocco head coach in 2016.


Pedigree: This will be Nigeria's sixth appearance at a World Cup - and their third in a row. They have reached the last 16 three times - 1994, 1998 and 2014 - but have never advanced beyond that stage.

Key player: Captain John Mikel Obi, the most experienced member of the squad with 80 caps, will be a key figure for the Super Eagles in Russia. This will be the former Chelsea midfielder's second World Cup - the 30-year-old helped the team reach the knockout stages in 2014 for the first time since 1998. He now plays in China with Tianjin Teda.

Premier League players: Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) and Ola Aina (on loan at Hull City from Chelsea).

Manager: Gernot Rohr has managed all over the world. From Nice to Gabon, Burkina Faso to Nigeria, the 64-year-old German has extensive knowledge. Rohr played at Bayern Munich and Bordeaux. He then coached Bordeaux when they lost to Bayern in the 1996 Uefa Cup final. Previous managerial jobs also include French club Nantes, Young Boys Berne in Switzerland, Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel and the Niger national team.


Pedigree: This is the first time Senegal have qualified for the World Cup since 2002 - and only the second time in history. In 2002, they reached the quarter finals where they were beaten 1-0 by Turkey.

Key player: Sadio Mane is the West African team's most experienced player with 48 caps and 14 goals since his debut in 2012. In 2015 he set a new Premier League record for the fastest hat-trick after scoring three times in 176 seconds during a 6-1 Southampton win over Aston Villa. When he transferred to Liverpool in 2016, he became the most expensive African player in history at the time, for a fee of £34m.

Premier League players: Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham), Diafra Sakho (West Ham), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Sadio Mane (Liverpool).

Championship players: Alfred N'Diaye (Wolves), Cheikh N'Doye (Birmingham City),

Manager:  Aliou Cisse is a former Senegal, Pompey and Birmingham City player. The 41-year-old briefly became head coach of the team in a caretaker role after Amara Traore's sacking in 2012. He then coached Senegal's under-23 side from 2012-2013 before heading back to the national team in a permanent position.


Pedigree: Next summer will represent the first time Tunisia have appeared at a World Cup finals since the tournament in Germany in 2006, at which they failed to make it beyond the group stage. In three finals appearances prior to that - 1978, 1998 and 2002 - they failed to make the knockout rounds.

Key player: Centre-back Aymen Abdennour is an experienced and talented figure in Tunisia's defence. Currently on loan at French club Marseille from Valencia, he has 57 international caps and has scored twice. Previously linked with moves to the Premier League with both Everton and Chelsea, the 28-year-old was recently reported to be on Watford's radar.

Premier League players: None
Championship players: Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland, on loan at Rennes)

Manager: Nabil Maaloul is in his second spell as Tunisia coach. His first lasted just seven games in 2013, which ended in his resignation after he failed to take his country to the 2014 World Cup finals. He returned in April of 2017, following spells with El Jaish SC in Qatar and the Kuwait national team. Prior to all this, he was assistant to then head coach Roger Lemerre as Tunisia won the 2004 African Cup of Nations and led ES Tunis to an historic treble in 2011. He won 74 caps for Tunisia during his playing days as a midfielder in the 1980s and 1990s.

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