Call us defensive? It’s a bit late to change now – Egypt coach

YEKATERINBURG, Russia: Egypt coach Hector Cuper does not mind his team being described as defensive and is not about to rip up the playbook that has brought them to their first World Cup finals in 28 years.

Since the Argentine coach took charge in 2015, the Pharaohs, who can boast one of the world’s top goalscorers Mohamed Salah, have enjoyed success with a style that is more efficient than thrilling.

World Cup – Press Conference

"For three years and a few months we’ve decided on a certain path… We’ve achieved a lot by following that path, so with very little time before the World Cup it would be risky to change things substantially in our style," Cuper told reporters on the eve of Friday’s game against Uruguay.

"I don’t like to practise at the World Cup with things we haven’t done before. Sometimes, you have to perfect and fine-tune the things that you do well."

Cuper ended the agony of millions of Egyptian fans by announcing Salah was almost certain to play on Friday after recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained while playing for Liverpool in their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid on May 26.

But he was also mindful of issues at the back, where Egypt were exposed in a 3-0 defeat by Belgium in a May 7 friendly.

"Perhaps we still need to work a bit more on defence," he acknowledged, sitting alongside veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary who at 45 will become the oldest player to take part in the World Cup finals if he takes the field on Friday.

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Hadary, the captain, said making it to the tournament was the culmination of 25 years of hard work.

"I will be the happiest person in the world," he said.

(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Ian Chadband)