Skip to main content

'Sisi's gonna lock them up': Egyptians dismayed as Pharaohs flop at World Cup

Social media users vent frustration after 3-1 defeat by hosts leaves Egyptian national team facing an early flight home from Russia
Egyptian football star Mohamed Salah looking dejected at Saint Petersburg Stadium (Reuters)

Egyptian football fans expressed dismay on social media on Tuesday as the national team slumped to their second successive defeat at the World Cup in Russia, effectively ending the Pharaohs' hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the tournament.

Egyptian talisman and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah returned to the pitch for the first time since injuring his shoulder in last month’s Champions League final, but his second-half penalty counted for little in a 3-1 defeat by the hosts in St Petersburg.

Some voiced concerns for the safety of the squad on their return home, while other commentators used the game to highlight human rights concerns in the country under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Others drew attention to the ongoing diplomatic rift between Qatar and a quartet of Arab states including Egypt. Qatar is set to host the next World Cup finals in 2022, the first time the Arab world has staged the event.

Others blamed Argentine coach Hector Cuper for the team’s performances, accusing him of "taking the soul" out of Egyptian football.

Disheartened fans, some of whom had spent life savings travelling to the tournament, began selling their tickets to Egypt's final game, a "Red Sea derby" against Saudi Arabia in Volgograd next week.

 Translation: I have an Egypt v Saudi ticket if anyone wants to buy it, for it's price 

Translation: For sale: airplane ticket from Moscow to Volgograd on the 24th plus a ticket to the Saudi Egypt match on the 25th 

But some Egyptians took solace in the result from the fact that Sisi, who came to power through a military coup in 2013, would be "upset" by the result.

Following a 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in their opening game, Egypt's hopes of extending their first appearance in the finals since 1990 briefly rested on Saudi Arabia beating the South American side.

However, on Wednesday the Saudis lost 1-0 to Uruguay, condemning Egypt and Saudi Arabia to the ignominy of being knocked out at the first hurdle.

The two sides will now meet on Monday in a game in which only bragging rights will be up for grabs.

Saudi Arabia were beaten 5-0 by Russia in their first match, and their second defeat leaves the four Arab qualifiers winless in seven games.

Morocco earlier on Wednesday were beaten 1-0 by Portugal, following a 1-0 defeat by Iran in their first game. Spain's later victory over Iran confirmed Morocco's elimination from the competition with one match, against the Spanish, still to play. 

Tunisia were beaten 2-1 by England in their opening game on Monday. Their second match, against Belgium, is on Saturday.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.