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FIFA 2018: 07 of 32 teams from Muslim countries, None in race to lift World Cup

Wednesday June 20, 2018 0:45 AM, News Network

Mohamed Salah

Moscow (Russia): There are a total of 32 teams in 08 groups which are participating in 2018 FIFA World Cup. Of them, 07 teams are representing Islamic countries, with all or majority of their team members being Muslims.

The 07 teams from the Muslim world which are participating in the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Tunisia, Nigeria and Senegal. However, none of them, short of a miracle, stand a chance of lifting the World Cup in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 15.

But, one player among the Muslims playing this world cup is Mohamed Salah. The 26-year-old is to Egypt what Sachin Tendulkar was to Indian cricket. That is, the man who carries the hopes and dreams of an entire nation on his back — a nation with a population of more than 96 million people, if you don’t mind.

Partly, it’s because of his mercurial talent. Salah has just come off a record-breaking season for Liverpool in which he scored 32 goals in 36 appearances, surpassing the mark for most goals by an individual in a Premier League season (31).

Among the teams representing the Islamic countries, Nigeria is appearing in FIFA World Cup for 6th time, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran are playing in the football world cup for 5th time whereas Senegal is playing in the world cup for 2nd time.

Among these teams, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Tunisia have lost their opening matches. On the other hand, Senegal defeated Poland in its opening match whereas Morocco lost to Iran in their opening match.

No Muslim country has ever won the football’s most prestigious competition, the FIFA World Cup. However, the best achievement for the Muslim World in the championship was Turkey’s historic qualification to semifinal and grabbing 3rd position in 2002, as well as Senegal’s qualification to the quarterfinals in the same tournament.

The teams representing the 07 Islamic countries in the 2018 football world cup have all or majority of the players who are Muslims. Besides them, Muslim players are also in the FIFA World Cup teams of Germany, France, Switzerland and Belgium. They are Mesut Özil of Germany, Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland, Marouane Fellaini of Belgium and Paul Pogba of France.

In the month of Ramadan which ended on Friday, the day FIFA 2018 World Cup inaugural was scheduled, Muslim players played friendly matches while observing fast.

"I always played well while fasting, I have no explanation, but I guess it's God's help and will," Abdel-Zaher El-Saqqa, a former Egypt international defender who was capped 112 times by his country and spent most of his professional career in Turkey, told Bleacher Report.

"My best games were all during Ramadan—once I even had to break my fast during a game when Adhan al-Maghreb time came. Egyptian players, including Salah, of course, have the experience of playing during fasting or after breaking their fast during Ramadan, because it's a thing they do over the years again and again", he added.

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