Feature: Crowds cheer for Egyptian soccer team at last training home before World Cup

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-10 18:49:29|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CAIRO, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The shouts of some 5,000 Egyptian supporters filled the Cairo International Stadium late on Saturday to encourage their national soccer team players during the last training session at home before flying to Russia for their World Cup campaign.

"I came with my four siblings to support the national team before they make it to Russia," 16-year-old schoolboy Omar Fahmy told Xinhua as he waved an Egyptian national flag at the gate of the stadium. "They need our support now and they will always have it."

A few hours after the training session, the Egyptian final 23-player squad flew to Russia where they will prepare for the World Cup in their base in Grozny.

With very tight security details, the national soccer team practiced at the capital's largest football stadium, with only 5,000 fans allowed in.

The Pharaohs will kick off their World Cup campaign on June 15 against Uruguay and then face the host Russia on June 19. Their final group stage match will be against Saudi Arabia on June 25.

At the stadium in Cairo, lucky crowds enjoyed watching Egyptians' idol and Liverpool injured striker Mohammed Salah from a close range for over two hours.

Egypt's star winger Salah faces a race against time to regain fitness for the World Cup after picking up a shoulder injury in Liverpool's 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final on May 26.

Media reports have said that it is not clear if Salah would be able to feature against Uruguay.

Salah, the 2018 Best African Footballer, is seen by Egyptians as a national hero who finally secured his country a seat in the world's top soccer competition after 28 years of absence.

"He is our man, he is 90 percent of the team's strength," Mohammed Samy, an accountant in his late 30s, told Xinhua. "All the Egyptians pray for his quick recovery."

"One of the reasons why I'm here is that I will be able to see Salah face to face," Mohammed Ashraf, a 24-year-old business owner who wore Salah's Liverpool shirt, said.

Just like all of the fans at the stadium, Ashraf kept calling Salah, asking him to get closer to the grand stand so they could see him clearly and take photos of him.

Salah did not turn his fans down and jogged for them several times, waving his hands to greet them.

Egyptians hang much hope on Salah, who was recently named the English Premier League 2018 player of the year, to help the national team advance beyond the group stage in Russia.

For Egyptian fans, the national team's results of the pre-World Cup friendlies have been a cause of worry after they failed to win any of their five games.

"We lost three games and barely drew twice, this is very worrying," Ashraf said.

However, the young man said things are going to be different during the tournament, hoping the team would perform well and make it to the last 16.

"Who knows! Maybe we could even reach the final game," Ashraf said, flashing a big smile.