The first of three World Cup games on Friday sees Egypt take on Uruguay in Yekaterinburg’s Ekaterinburg Stadium.
The 35,000-seater stadium is the most-eastern venue at this year’s tournament, lying on the geographical border of Europe and Asia, but all the focus in the build-up to the game has been on Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.
They have had been sweating on the Liverpool forward’s fitness after he suffered a shoulder injury in the Champions League final last month but there was some encouragement for Hector Cuper’s side as Salah trained with the team on Wednesday.
Manager Cuper confirmed on Thursday that Salah would feature in the squad against Uruguay for Egypt’s first World Cup appearance in 28 years, but hinted that the final decision remained with the player.
We have the latest from Eygpt’s World Cup preparations, but will Mo Salah be fit to face Uruguay
“Salah has recovered and will play tomorrow. And nothing prevents him from competing for the title of the Golden Boot,” he told his pre-match press conference. “I assure you 100 per cent that he will be with us tomorrow, barring unforeseen circumstances.
“Doctors are giving him the option. If he does decide to play he will have full guarantee [about his condition] and I am sure that he will be fine.
“If we see at the last minute that there is an issue then we will see if it can be resolved, but certainly he does not feel afraid.”
Meanwhile, Uruguay’s attacking threat will come from Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, and Paris Saint-Germain’s Edison Cavani.
Cavani was the top-scorer in South American qualifying for the World Cup with 10 goals, while Suarez has five World Cup goals to his name, including two against England in 2014.
Uruguay also won the only previous meeting between the sides 2-0 in 2006.
The big news is Salah’s inclusion on Friday, and appears to be assured of a starting spot. However, new Huddersfield signing Ramadan Sobhi is a replacement if needed.
Egypt could also make history by fielding the oldest player to feature at a World Cup, with 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary in the squad.
Reported Arsenal transfer target Lucas Torreira could start for Uruguay, with Suarez and Cavani expected to start up front.