Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary believes anything is possible for every team at the World Cup, including Egypt.
In an interview with FIFA.com, the legendary shot-stopper was adamant that the Pharaohs can pull a surprise or two in Russia.
“At a World Cup, there are no weak teams,” El-Hadary said.
“We have many examples of teams that were seen as ordinary but then defeated big-name sides. I heard many people saying they were happy we didn’t end up in a group with Germany, Brazil, Spain or Argentina.
“But we, the players, know the strength of our rivals in the group. Russia, as the host nation supported by legions of fans, will be doing everything to qualify. Uruguay are a vastly experienced South American team with top notch strikers like [Luis] Suarez and [Edinson] Cavani. As for Saudi Arabia, our encounter will certainly be wonderful. In all-Arab matches, you cannot say one side is a stronger favorite than the other.”
Personally, the four-time Africa Cup of Nations champion – who turns 45 in January – wants to ensure he secures a starting place in Egypt’s World Cup squad.
“Since qualifying for Russia 2018, I’ve had the drive to push myself even further,” he said.
“I work out in the morning before I join group training sessions with the team. I thank God for all this. I’m always focused on constantly developing. I won’t let anything stop me. I still have the ambition to play in the World Cup. I want to secure a place in the national team through my efforts and achievements, not through my name and history.”
As for team goals and what to expect from Egypt in Russia, El-Hadary wants his charges to go as deep into the tournament as they can.
“We’re a strong unit, and not just on the pitch: we’re one family with one objective, which is to raise the profile of Egypt and Egyptian football. We want to do it and put a smile on the faces of tens of millions of people.”