Mohamed Salah, seen here during a training session on Monday, has recovered from his shoulder problem in time to face Russia today. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP
Mohamed Salah, seen here during a training session on Monday, has recovered from his shoulder problem in time to face Russia today. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP
Sadio Mané will look to emulate his form at Liverpool for Senegal against Poland. Photo: Antonio Bronic/Reuters
Sadio Mané will look to emulate his form at Liverpool for Senegal against Poland. Photo: Antonio Bronic/Reuters

After yet another disappointing day at the World Cup for an African nation on Monday, will Senegal and Egypt come to the party today?

Tunisia were oh-so-close to grabbing a point off England, only for Harry Kane (who else?) to break our collective African hearts.

It was a gutsy display from the North Africans, but guts can only get you so far...

Let’s see a bit of razzle-dazzle from Liverpool stars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané!

2pm: Columbia v Japan

Watch out Ronaldo and Kane, here comes James Rodriguez! The Bayern Munich star won the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup with six goals in five games, and he will spearhead Columbia’s attack from midfield and look to feed top striker Radamel Falcao.

There are a few other familiar names such as Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, defenders Cristian Zapata (AC Milan) and Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), as well as striker Jose Izquierdo of Brighton and Hove Albion.

Former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa will look to spark Japan, with Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki leading the front-line.

But the Japanese have a relatively new coach in Akira Nishiro, who has been in charge for just three games, while there was also an earthquake in Osaka on Monday that the coach said left the players “a bit shocked” and concerned about family members.

Prediction: Columbia 2-0 Japan

5pm: Poland v Senegal

Stop Robert Lewandowski – that should be the immediate task for Senegal if they hope to claim Africa’s first win at the tournament.

The prolific Bayern Munich striker will want to prove that he can produce the goods on the big stage after a disappointing two legs of the Champions League semi-final, where he failed to score against Real Madrid.

But will he get the same supply from his Polish midfield? That is where Senegal are strong, with the likes of England-based players Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham) and Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham) trying to find superstar Sadio Mané and Diafra Sakho upfront.

But the fact that they lost a qualifier to Bafana – which was replayed due to match-fixing and resulted in a Senegalese win – makes me feel they are not as good as they may think.

Prediction: Poland 1-0 Senegal

8pm: Russia v Egypt

Mo Salah! Mo Salah! This time, there won’t be any shenanigans – the Liverpool hero will start his first World Cup game, and he’s going to win it for Africa!

Russia may have put five goals past Saudi Arabia, but this Egypt outfit is a very different proposition.

And they’re far from a one-man show, as they proved by taking Luis Suarez’s Uruguay all the way before conceding a late goal.

Apart from Salah, Amr Wardah will run all day, Mohamed Elneny and Ramadan Sobhi will light up the midfield, and Ahmed Fathi and Ahmed Hegazi are well backed-up by goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, who was the Man of the Match against Uruguay.

Russia will be confident after their Saudi rout, but two-goal hero Denis Cheryshev won’t have as much space to operate in this time.

Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksandr Golovin will attempt to get in behind the Egyptian defence, and home crowd will also spur them on in Saint Petersburg. But will it be enough?

Prediction: Russia 1-2 Egypt!

 

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