Monday 18 June 2018, 05:26

Elneny: We have no option other than to win

  • Mohamed Elneny played full 90 minutes against Uruguay

  • Pharoahs must win to stay in the tournament

  • Elneny: "We'll fight hard to get out of the group."

By Belal Mostafa with Egypt

Mohamed Elneny is currently one of the standout players in Hector Cuper's squad, but the Egyptian midfielder had major personal obstacles to overcome before making it to Russia. The Arsenal man suffered a ligament injury in April, but his recuperation was swift enough to get him back on the pitch.

The midfielder put in a strong defensive performance in his side’s narrow loss to Uruguay, but Elneny and his teammates now intend to take a more attacking approach against hosts Russia in their second game. The aim is to evade elimination at the group stage, as happened the last time Egypt appeared on the world stage, at Italy 1990.

In an exclusive interview with, Elneny gave more details on Egypt’s possible change of approach and spoke about the pressure of playing in a FIFA World Cup™ after such a long absence.

"We didn't qualify for the World Cup after such a long time away to play three games and go home,” he said. “We won't leave Russia before we realise our ambitions and objectives. We'll fight hard to get out of the group."

The player with the largest number of completed passes in the match against Uruguay added: "We are focused on the crucial game against Russia, which is the most difficult and most important for us. But all the guys are in good shape and high spirits. We all believe that we're able to beat them."

Elneny, who moved from Egypt to Europe in joining Basel five years ago, discussed the huge fan base supporting the Sbornaya. "We realise that this is going to be a very tough game against a host nation supported by thousands of Russian fans. We are well aware of that, but we have no option other than winning, which means we need to keep our calm and focus."

Tactical changes With Uruguay boasting attackers of the calibre of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Elneny needed to fulfil his defensive duties to the letter in the tournament opener. But when asked about the importance of playing with greater emphasis on attack against Russia, he agreed: "Absolutely. That is coach Hector Cuper’s plan. He always instructs me and other players to activate the attack and move forward to support our colleagues."

The 25-year old, who has five international goals to his name, added: "In the match against Russia we will go for it because we want to stay here for as long as we can. To play in a World Cup and experience this atmosphere is a dream you hope will never end."

Elneny is clearly confident Egypt can turn things around and claim a historic victory then, and with a bit of luck he could even score his first World Cup goal in the process.