Russia and Egypt are all buddy-buddy ahead of their World Cup betting matchup in the 2018 FIFA global tournament. Russian president Vladimir Putin met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, Egypt. Which is only fitting when one considers that Egypt, or rather, its national football team will, repay the visit in roughly six month from now. The difference being that when the two nations meet on the pitch, they won’t be discussing a $21 billion deal to start work on Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant. They might be, though, negotiating something more meaningful to people betting on the World Cup: qualification to the second round.
19 June 2018 21:00 MSK (UTC+3)
Russia vs. Egypt
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg
Not to dust off an old stereotype from the 80s, but “FIFA announced Saturday it would test past samples provided by the Russian soccer team for tampering ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” reported the Moscow Times. The announcement comes on the heels of Russia’s ban from next year’s Winter Games in South Korea for doping violations. Four-and-thirty players, including the entire roster who participated in the 2014 World Cup, have been listed as possibly benefitting from state-sponsored doping. Just like Ivan Drago. Testing was delayed because “no standard methodology to determine whether bottles containing urine for doping analysis bear marks indicating surreptitious opening” existed until recently.
“We’re not afraid of anything, these are total fabrications,” president of the Russian Football Union Vitaly Mutko said. Well, if these are the same kind of “fabrications” that resulted in Mutko’s lifetime ban from the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee, then maybe he should be just a little bit afraid. On the other hand, Mutko is living proof that Russia truly is the land of second chances. Also, their World Cup betting odds weren’t great four years ago. “Let me put it this way: if that’s really how we would perform after doping, just imagine how we would perform without it.” He does have a point there. The Russian squad was eliminated from the group stage in Brazil. They were winless in three games.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been named the BBC African Footballer of the Year. “I would like to thank my Liverpool team-mates and I also had a good season with Roma so I have to thank my team-mates there and my team-mates in the national team,” Salah said after receiving his trophy from manager Jurgen Klopp on Monday. “I want to be the best Egyptian ever so I work hard. I always follow my own way and I want everyone in Egypt to follow my way.” Which is a fitting call to arms. Egyptian soccer fans, who may or may not be fond of World Cup betting, are divided between optimists and pessimists. Russia has home field advantage, “but logically and professionally Egypt is stronger,” xinhuanet.com quoted a fan. “Uruguay and Russia have much more chances…Uruguay are very strong; the Russians host the World Cup and will play home,” said another. Sounds like a case of the glassful being half empty.