We’ve got a chance of getting through, Morsy says about World Cup group
In an interview with the Telegraph, Morsy expressed his happiness to be part of the final national team squad that will be heading to Russia for the World Cup after being chosen by Argentinian coach Hector Cuper.
The midfielder’s game has developed considerably over the past few years. And this past season, despite not being noticed, Morsy was a key player for his club Wigan Athletic and was rewarded by being named the team’s captain and also made his first appearance for the national team.
“When I moved to Port Vale at 17 after being released by Wolves, where I’d spent nine years in their academy, the goal for me was always to play for Egypt and when I broke into the first team there that’s when journalists from Egypt first started to contact me but I’ve had to be patient,” Morsy said.
“I never played for any of Egypt’s junior teams and wasn’t called up until I was 24 so I arrived in the international set up as a man really.”
The Egyptian and his teammates at Wigan had a spectacular season, as they conquered three Premier League teams in the FA Cup and were the first English team to beat Manchester City. Something that definitely grabbed the attention of Pharaohs coach Hector Cuper.
“I knew people enjoyed their football in Egypt but it wasn’t until I played over there that I realized just how much they adore the players. It’s hard to overemphasize what getting to the World Cup means to the country,” he said.
Morsy was part of the squad that faced Congo in the thrilling World Cup qualifier in which Salah scored a brace, including a last-gasp penalty kick that gave Egyptians and the midfielder a night to remember.
“It was the last kick of the game and Mo had the weight of a nation literally on his shoulders but I think that’s the thing with him – he delivers in those pressure situations.
“It feels different to England. I feel in England like you’re waiting for people to fail or mess up. There’s a whole disconnect. Raheem Sterling is the one for me. He’s still getting slaughtered despite having an incredible season for Manchester City.”
As for team star Mohamed Salah, Morsy pointed out the big responsibility on the Liverpool winger given that everyone is expecting him to score in most games.
Salah’s recent injury during the UEFA Champions League final match left all Egyptian fans worried about his chances for playing with Egypt in the World Cup. Though his participation in the first match against Uruguay has not been confirmed yet, the goal-machine is expected to play against Russia and Saudia Arabia.
“Lionel Messi will probably go down as the greatest player ever but Mo has had a Messi-like season,” he said. “There is a huge responsibility on him. Every game he plays people expect goals, assists but it doesn’t look as if feels that pressure. He plays light in his feet and he’s a very humble, very kind man, very funny too.”
The 26-year-old also spoke about another teammate, the legendary goalie Essam El-Hadary who is set to become the oldest player to appear in a World Cup at the age of 45.
The record is now being held by former Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, when he played against Japan in the 2014 World Cup aged 43 years and 3 days.
“He’s unbelievable, such a character,” Morsy said. “He’s 45 but thinks he’s 25. He’s an icon in Africa. He does all the adverts with Pepsi and Puma. I call him Tom Cruise. He loves it.”
“His professionalism is incredible,” the player added. “He’s in the ice bath 20 minutes after every training session. He’s a real leader. Most times when the manager has a meeting, Essam will then call his own meeting after to make sure no one is dropping off.
“A lot of his team talks are about not letting down the people. In England it seems to be, ‘Block out the fans, block out the fans’ whereas in Egypt it’s about embracing the fans.”
Egypt will be playing against Uruguay on June 15th in Group A, then face hosts Russia on June 19th before facing Saudia Arabia in the final group match on June 25th.
The British-born player believes that the Pharaohs got a chance of getting through the group reaching the round of 16.
“I think the advantage we have is not many of the smaller nations have a player like Salah so there’s always a belief he can do something special,” he concluded.
Morsy and Wigan Athletic will be playing in the EFL Championship next season after they won League 1 title with 98 points ahead of Blackburn.
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