2018 Soccer World Cup factbox: Group A

2018-05-31 07:32
Luis Suarez (AFP)

United Kingdom - All the need-to-know facts on the international teams vying for glory in Group A at the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Russia.

SWC factbox: Group A

SWC factbox: Group B

SWC factbox: Group C

SWC factbox: Group D

SWC factbox: Group E

SWC factbox: Group F

SWC factbox: Group G

SWC factbox: Group H


Honours: 1960 European Championship winners (as the Soviet Union); European Championship runners up (as the Soviet Union) -- 1964, 1972, 1988; Olympic Gold in 1956 (as the Soviet Union)

Past World Cup performance: Fourth World Cup as an independent nation (seven World Cups as the Soviet Union).

Best result: Fourth place in 1966 (Soviet Union)

FIFA ranking: 66th

Main clubs: Spartak Moscow, Zenit Saint Petersburg, CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Dynamo Moscow

Nickname: Sbornaya

How they qualified: Automatically as hosts

Friendly matches scheduled: May 30, Austria v Russia in Innsbruck, Austria | June 5, Russia v Turkey in Moscow

Provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge/BEL), Soslan Dzhanaev (Rubin Kazan), Andrei Lunev (Zenit St Petersburg)

Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Fyodor Kudryashov (both Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Neustadter (Fenerbahce/TUR), Konstantin Rausch (Dynamo Moscow), Andrei Semyonov (Akhmat Grozny), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg), Mario Fernandes, Sergei Ignashevich (both CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Yury Gazinsky (Krasnodar), Alan Dzagoev, Alexander Golovin (both CSKA Moscow), Alexander Erokhin, Yury Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev (all Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin, Alexander Samedov (both Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Tashyev (Dynamo Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal/ESP)

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (Krasnodar), Fyodor Chalov (CSKA Moscow)


Honours: Asian Cup winners 1984, 1988, 1996; Confederations Cup runners-up 1992

Past World Cup performance: Fifth participation.

Best result: Round of 16 (1994)

FIFA ranking: 67th

Main clubs: Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad, Al-Nasr

Nickname: The Green Falcons

How they qualified: Finished second in Asian qualifying Group B behind Japan

Friendly matches scheduled: June 3 v Peru | June 8 v Germany (Leverkusen, Germany)

Provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Mohammed al-Owais (Al-Ahli), Abdullah al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal), Yasser al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli), Assaf al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)

Defenders: Osama Hawsawi (Al-Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr), Motaz Hawsawi (Al-Ahli), Ali al-Bulayhi (Al-Hilal), Mohammed Jahfali (Al-Hilal), Yasser al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal), Mansour al-Harbi (Al-Ahli), Mohammed al-Burayk (Al-Hilal), Saeed al-Muwallad (Al-Ahli)

Midfielders: Abdulla Otayf (Al-Hilal), Salman al-Faraj (Al-Hilal), Abdulmalik al-Khaibari (Al-Hilal), Abdullah al-Khaibari (Al-Shabab), Mohammed Kanno (Al-Hilal), Hussein al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli), Taisir al-Jassim (Al-Ahli), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), Yahya al-Shehri (Al-Nassr), Nawaf al-Abid (Al-Hilal), Fahad al-Muwallad (Al-Ittihad), Mohammed al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq)

Forwards: Mohammed al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr), Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi

Pizzi, 49, was born in Argentina but represented Spain at international level in a playing career that featured a successful spell at Barcelona in the 1990s.

In an already well-travelled coaching career, he has taken charge of San Lorenzo, leading the Buenos Aires side to the Argentine title in 2013, and Valencia in Spain. His last job, he was in charge of Chile and took them to the final of the Confederations Cup in Russia last year but left his post after their failure to make the World Cup and went on replace compatriot Edgardo Bauza in charge of the Saudis last November.


Honours: Africa Cup of Nations winners in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010; Africa Cup of Nations runners-up in 1962, 2017

Past World Cup performance: Third participation.

Best result: First round in 1934 and 1990

FIFA ranking: 46th 

Main Clubs: Al-Ahly, Zamalek, Ismaili, Al-Masry, Smouha

Nickname: The Pharaohs

How they qualified: Finished top of Group E in African qualifying

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup: June 1 v Colombia (Bergamo) | June 6 v Belgium (Brussels)

Provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun/KSA), Mohamed El Shenawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly), Mohamed Awad (Ismaily)

Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Al Ahly), Saad Samir (Al Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Ali Gabr (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa/ENG), Mohamed Abdel-Shafi (Al Fateh/KSA), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles/USA), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek), Karim Hafez (Lens/FRA)

Midfielders: Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal/ENG), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mahmoud AbdelAziz (Zamalek), Amro Tarek (Orlando City/USA), Sam Morsy (Wigan/ENG), Mahmoud Abdel Razek (Al Raed/KSA), Abdallah El Said (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa/TUR), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City/ENG), Amr Warda (Atromitos/GRE), Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim (Al Ittihad/KSA)

Forwards: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/ENG), Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Ahmed Hassan (Braga/POR), Ahmed Gomaa (Al Masry)

Coach: Hector Cuper

The wily Argentine had never managed at international level before Egypt took a gamble on him in 2015. He has since done a remarkable job transforming the footballing fortunes of the country after years of social and political strife had damaged the game.

Cuper took the Pharaohs to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon two years ago, where they lost narrowly to Cameroon. And he has led them to the World Cup for the first time since 1990. His style of football makes his teams hard to beat, although he has never been able to shrug his reputation as a nearly-man, having most notably lost two Champions League finals with Valencia and the Serie A title on the final day of the season with Inter Milan in 2002.


Honours: World Cup winners 1930, 1950; 15 times winners of Copa America; Olympic gold medalists 1924, 1928

Past World Cup performance: Thirteenth participation.

Best result: Winners in 1930 and 1950

FIFA ranking: 17th

Main Clubs: Penarol, Nacional

Nickname: La Celeste (The Sky Blues)

How they qualified: Finished second in South American qualifying behind Brazil.

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup: June 7 v Uzbekistan

Provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray/TUR), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama/BRA), Martin Campana (Independiente/ARG)

Defenders: Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Maximiliano Pereira (FC Porto/POR), Gaston Silva (Independiente/ARG), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Guillermo Varela (Penarol), Martin Caceres (Lazio/ITA)

Midfielders: Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey/MEX), Matias Vecino (Inter/ITA), Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors/ARG), Federico Valverde (Depotivo La Coruna/ESP), Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro/BRA), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus/ITA), Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders/USA), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria/ITA), Diego Laxalt (Genoa/ITA), Gaston Ramirez (Sampdoria/ITA), Cristian Rodriguez (Penarol)

Forwards: Luis Suarez (Barcelona/ESP), Cristhian Stuani (Girona/ESP), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Monterrey/MEX), Maximilano Gomez (Celta/ESP).

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