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‘Morocco represent all Arabs at the World Cup, and we stand behind them’ – Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny

The Egyptian midfielder, who missed out on playing another World Cup this year, said he has been proud of the displays put up by Arab teams at the showpiece event.

Egypt's Mohamed Elneny (left) says Morocco represent all Arabs at the World Cup. (AP | Reuters)
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After representing his country on the world stage at Russia 2018, Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny narrowly missed out on the opportunity to do so again at Qatar 2022. Had Egypt made it, the feeling would likely be even more special since it was the first World Cup to be held in an Arab country.

Nevertheless, while continuing training and off-season games with his club Arsenal, Elneny has been supporting the Arab teams while watching from home. And he has seen fellow North African side Morocco’s remarkable World Cup run with glee. “It’s been a brilliant World Cup with lots of surprises,” he told the National News. “Arab teams have done a great job and they’ve really entertained us.”

There have been promising performances from many teams from the Arab region. Saudi Arabia’s early shock win over Argentina was heralded as one of the biggest World Cup upsets of all time, Iran notched an emotional win over Wales despite the conflicts back home, and even Tunisia beat defending champions France.

Morocco’s run is the most remarkable though. They have taken down giants of the game on the way to the quarterfinal. They opened their campaign with a goalless draw to Croatia, beat Belgium 2-0, and then held Spain to a goalless draw and beat them on penalties. Elneny wished the side well ahead of their next match against Portugal.

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“I’m so happy for Morocco, they represent all Arabs and that’s something that makes us very happy. We stand behind them in their upcoming game Insha’Allah,” he said.

As the World Cup nears its end, club football teams are now gearing up for the season restart, and none more so than Arsenal, whose brilliant run of form has seen them rise to the top of the Premier League table. But injuries are likely to plague most teams with lots of international talent, and Arsenal have lost their talisman Gabriel Jesus after he picked up an injury against Cameroon. The striker has had to undergo minor surgery in his right knee.

“Everyone is important in the squad. We love him and we all support him,” Elneny said. “We love him so much as a player and as a person and all the squad we are ready, everyone can play; we’re Arsenal and everyone can fit in the starting 11. Of course he’s a big player for us and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

First published on: 10-12-2022 at 11:33 IST
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