Hector Cuper, the Egypt coach, has dismissed suggestions that Mohamed Salah is on the verge of quitting international football.
The Liverpool forward is reportedly unhappy with the Egyptian football federation at being used for political ends, including being pictured with controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a man accused of human-rights violations.
Egypt have been based in the Chechen capital Grozny, with Kadyrov making Salah an honorary citizen of the Russian republic.
A miserable tournament for Cuper’s team ended with a surprise 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in Volgograd, a third successive defeat which left them pointless and bottom of Group A.
Speaking about Salah potentially quitting the national team, Cuper said: “I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s true because all of those who are here – and those who couldn’t come – really, really support and appreciate the opportunity of playing for the national team, so I don’t think that’s true.”
Both teams were already eliminated ahead of this dead rubber following successive defeats against Uruguay and hosts Russia.
Salah lobbed Egypt ahead with their first World Cup goal from open play since 1934, but his celebration was notably subdued.
The 25-year-old, who also scored with a penalty in the previous match against Russia, then missed a golden chance which could have helped them end the competition on a high.
After Egypt’s 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary – the oldest player to appear at a World Cup – saved a penalty from Fahad Al Muwallad, Saudi Arabia turned the game around thanks to a second spot kick, converted by Salman Al Faraj, and Salem Al Dawsari’s dramatic injury-time winner.
Despite finishing with three defeats from three games, Cuper felt his players performed well in Russia and were unlucky to lose two games to late goals.
“I think we have played well, it’s true that the results weren’t good, we have lost all three matches,” said the Argentine, whose contract expires at the end of the tournament.
“And I am disappointed that we have lost two games – one in the 90th minute [Uruguay], and the other one in the 95th minute [Saudi Arabia] – that’s what makes me sad and disappointed.
“I’m not going to give an evaluation, one to 10, of my team.”
Saudi Arabia’s comeback win was their first success at a World Cup since they beat Belgium 1-0 in Washington at USA ’94.
Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was pleased with how his players reacted to losing their two opening games and said it was up to the Saudi Arabian Federation to choose whether he would continue to lead the team.
“The association will have to decide what they want to do, it doesn’t depend on myself,” said the Spaniard. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days.”
Saudi Arabia’s equaliser came in contentious circumstances.
Colombian official Wilmar Roldan adjudged Egypt defender Ali Gabr had impeded Al Muwallad inside the box in first-half added time and awarded a second spot-kick.
The two players appeared to have hold of each other but, after taking more than three minutes to consult the video assistant referee, and watch replays of the incident, Roldan stuck with his initial decision, allowing Al Faraj to send El Hadary the wrong way from 18 yards.
The second half was a far more tight affair and looked set to end in stalemate until Al Dawsari drove home with the last kick of the game.
Saudi Arabia's attempts on goal
FULL TIME - SAUDI ARABIA WIN!
That's it. Thank heavens! No fluidity, poor passing and just nothing of substance to offer. At least the goalkeeper saved a penalty on his record-breaking day and Saudi Arabia deserved the wing. No more World Cup for either of these teams but on this evidence, neither deserved to go further than this stage.
The absolute state of this:
AND SAUDI ARABIA HAVE WON IT!
Egypt have been AWFUL. It's a nice little move but Egypt aren't really trying. The finish is struck low into the bottom corner and that puts Egypt - deservedly - bottom of their World Cup group. That's Saudi Arabia's first World Cup win since 1994!
90 mins+2 - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
The assistant referee has signaled for four minutes of added time. I hate to sound like Mark Lawrenson but I don't know why they don't just let this one die. To justify it a little bit, at least Saudi Arabia are still looking for a winner. Egypt are walking around the pitch.
89 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Nothing comes of the free-kick but Al-Mogahwi goes for a David Platt vs Belgium effort on goal and doesn't connect as well. The ball is over.
If the score stays the same, Saudi Arabia will finish bottom of the group, which really doesn't seem fair based on this game. At least they've tried.
87 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Salah is juuuuuuuuuuust offside as it looks like he might be flying away through on goal.
Fathy is booked for a foul on Shahrani and Saudi Arabia have a free-kick near the box.
85 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
WHAT A CHANCE! Kahraba is one on one with the goalkeeper! He's being chased but gets to the box and then shoots... and the goalkeeper saves. It would have been offside anyway.
Iain Dowie doesn't seem to able to accept change and is calling that decision 'bizarre'. They got it right, pal. There was no wait.
83 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
A loose Saudi Arabian pass gives Egypt the chance to counter-attack, they take it and Salah chases the ball behind the last man... and the defence crowds him out and wins.
There is absolutely no intensity to this Egypt team. They look like they're just waiting for this to be over.
81 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Saudi Arabia have a free-kick 25 yards out. Where do we think this one's going to go? I have a feeling - a hinting suspicion - that it might be over the bar.
Aaaaaaaaaaand it hits the wall! I was wrong. We were all wrong.
Egypt send on Kahraba for Trezeguet.
79 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
The corner is awful. Woeful. But there's a nother chance to put it in and Warda dribbles towards defenders... and Hegazi wins a corner. Again, the corner is beyond dreadful. Saudi break... but the cross is headed away.
77 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Egypt have a rare venture up the pitch. Four vs four... Salah on the ball... and the Warda dribbles towards players to deny himself space and the pass into the box is easily intercepted.
Saudi break, Egypt win the ball. Egypt come forwards, Salah skips past one, is muscled out of the second... and it's a corner. Warda tries to get the fans to give his team some support.
75 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
74 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Egypt try to play from the back, give possession away and Saudi Arabia win a free-kick as Faraj kicks the forward running at him to stop the move. It's pretty far out but I honestly won't be surprised if someone hits this at goal. And obviously, I'm assuming it's going over the bar.
72 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
This is all of Egypt's shots:
If they ended the game now, nobody would be too upset. It's basically only Salah who wants to score for Egypt.
70 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Couple of chances for Saudi Arabia. The first is turned away acrobatically and the second is a great save at the near post. Strong hands from the experienced keeper.
68 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
66 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
It's time to give everyone World Cup minutes now. On comes Asiri for Bahebri. Egypt put Sobhi on for Mohsen.
64 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Salah is still poaching on the edge of the last man, looking to take advantage of any loose passes. This game has turned into one of those Sunday night kickabouts where nobody takes note of the score and few players are really trying to the best of their ability.
62 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
That's the best move of the game. Egypt aren't doing very well here and Saudi Arabia are able to ping some quick passes together around the area and very nearly create a one v one off the back of it. Hegazi blocks at the end... and the corner comes to nothing.
This game is bad.
60 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
This graphic sums up Saudi Arabia's performance quite nicely. And if you add another one to that list about a metre above the bar (as in a metre on your screen) you'll have an idea of where their latest effort from 25 yards has gone.
58 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
The free-kick is headed away by the first man at the near post.
56 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Egypt still defending in their 4-4-2, sitting deep, letting Saudi Arabia keep the ball because that is genuinely when Egypt are at their most dangerous. This team are one pass away from handing a counter-attack to their opponents.
Here's a chance for Saudi Arabia though! But it's been blasted over the bar. Again.
Egypt win a free-kick close to the touchline on the right. Salah comes across to take it and gets big cheers from the Egyptian fans.
54 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
It's all Saudi Arabia at the moment. Egypt really don't seem bothered about it either.
And then all of a sudden a loose pass hands Egypt the chance to counter-attack. Salah shows some lovely skill on the right wing but his teammates can't make any use of the next pass.
52 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
The replay for that claimed non-penalty shows Hawsawi gets a wee kick to his knee then throws himself to the ground. It's pathetic and a good job that Saudi Arabian officials haven't put punishments in place for such fraudulent behaviour back home.
49 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Saudi Arabia have started the second half well and are attacking from the off. They win a corner on the left wing, Faraj comes over to take it. It's a decent cross, the ball is headed back across the box and Hawsawi goes down! Is that another penalty?! The referee says no.
47 mins - Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1
Iain Dowie (on co-comms) reckons that the introduction of Warda at half-time will make Egypt more of a 4-3-3 than 4-2-3-1. It doesn't look like that at the moment.
Elneny has just roared at the referee for giving a soft free-kick against him.
KICK OFF 2
Warda on, Said off. He picked up a wee knock in that first half and can probably just go home now.
Let's see if both teams can improve on this, and Iain Dowie can stop slagging off VAR because they made a decision which doesn't align with his opinion.
That penalty save
More statistics for you
Could you do better?
VAR has brought a wide division of opinions (even though it's amazing) and we have a fun little game for you to play to see how good you'd be at deciding the calls.
Well, that's that. VAR controversy once more! A fairly tame game, bad defending, lack of quality upfront aaaaaand now we have a short break.
Faraj steps up this time and sends the goalkeeper the wrong way! The scores are level and Saudi Arabia have a World Cup 2018 goal.
The referee decides to select 'PENALTY'! And a yellow card for Gabr. The yellow card seems harsh.
The ref is going to look at the screen
The crowd goes wild... what will the referee decide! He's looking at the TV. Now he's just scrolling through Netflix menus for a while. Can't really decide what to watch. Does he want a movie? Or just a little sitcom for now. The US Office isn't on there anymore and there's a not a huge selection really. He's watched Peep Show about 28 times on repeat.
This is so cheap! Gabr has a hold of Muwallad and gives him a wee shove to the floor as he turns him. The VAR is checking this again...
Lots of fact checking going on.
44 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
The goalie is OK to continue. Egypt win a throw-in high up the pitch but it looks like Said might have a problem with his calf. The muscle, not his cattle.
42 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
Egypt are in a bit of a panic as the ball rattles around their penalty area and Saudi Arabia win another corner.
El Hadary has gone down with an injury now, perhaps doing so while making that save.
WHAT A SAVE!
The 45 year old El Hadary dives to his right and it's a BRILLIANT save to deny Muwallad, pushing the ball up onto the bar and behind for a corner. Superb.
Saudi Arabia have a penalty! The VAR are checking it but Sharani's cross from wide left comes off Fathy's hand. That seems mega harsh but the ball does hit his arm.
The penalty stands.
37 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
There's been a red card over in the Uruguay vs Russia game... and there's nearly a goal in this one! Saudi Arabia create their chance well, Faraj swings a shot from just inside the area and it looks like it's going to fly into the net but Hegazi puts a brilliant block in to deny him.
35 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
Ooooooh that's a beautiful move. Egypt find space in the Saudi half, Salah receives a pass, flicks it in the air with his first touch, skips it over a tackle with his second and then puts Trezeguet in on goal. He goes for a fancy curling effort but puts it high and wide.
And Trezeguet has another chance to shoot! And again he's bent the shot wide of the goal.
33 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
The ball is hooked in from wide right, the goalkeeper looks a little lost as he follows the flight of it and his defender friend heads behind for a corner. Faraj comes to take it... it goes all the way across the box but the ball is put behind for a goal kick in the second phase. Pizzi is kicking all kinds of hell out of some water bottles on the side.
31 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
That's another shot blootered over the bar from Saudi Arabia. This time Sharani gets it all wrong. Poor shooting technique all round in this team.
29 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
Saudi Arabia have the possession, Egypt let them give the ball away and then counter-attack quickly. The pattern has been established and I can see Egypt grabbing at least another goal, if not a few. They have a free-kick wide left now.
27 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
Saudi Arabia have the ball in the final third but when passing to anyone further than 10 yards away, it's like rolling a dice. Egypt can sit back and easily win the ball back.
25 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 1
SALAH IS IN AGAIN! This will be 2-0! He's been put clean through on goal, is perhaps offside, but has the entire half to run into, faces up to the goalkeeper and tries to chip the keeper.
His effort is awful and goes wide.
It's a quick counter-attack, the ball is high and over the top, Salah chases and his first touch is fantastic to take the weight out of it while sprinting, and his finish is a lovely lob over the goalkeeper.
He doesn't look hugely pleased to have scored tbf.
22 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Salah is about two yards offside just as Egypt construct a nice looking attacking move. He would have been away into the box if that pass had come a second sooner!
Both teams seem a bit more comfortable on the ball now, moving it around better. Saudi Arabia are playing some nice football in the final third now too... but El Hadary catches a cross from wide right and tries to kickstart a counter-attack.
20 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Better delivery from the Saudi right-back but nobody meets it in the box and Egypt break. Salah takes on Hawsawi for pace... and loses! He's quick. Both are actually... but the defender wins with a small couple of yards headstart.
18 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Salah picks up the ball in his own half and the counter is on! He moves it out to the right for Said, there are men over! And again the cross is dreadful. It's not only a poor decision to float a cross into the middle but the execution is terrible too. A real lack of quality on show here.
16 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Osama jhas hit a dreadful clearance and handed Egypt the ball in the final third with men over! But the cross into the box is awful, hit high when there are about two options free available on the ground. Saudi Arabia win the header, move the ball up the pitch and Dawsari shoots over from outside the box. Over the bar. Again.
14 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Poor effort from Al-Dawsari. He tries a speculative shot from 25 yards but gets it all wrong.
Muwallad is changing his boots. Hopefully the ones he puts on are his 'Shooting Boots'. I'm sorry for the dad jokes.
12 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
In the other game of the group, Luis Suarez has just scored a very nice looking free-kick. You can get all the updates in Uruguay vs Russia in our other liveblog. Meanwhile, in this game, Saudi Arabia are probing the final third looking for a way through the Egypt defence but can't figure anything out.
10 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Faraj whips the cross in but Hegazi heads away. Egypt end up winning a goal-kick.
8 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Al-Sharani gets high up the pitch (he's the left-back) but Saudi Arabia can't make use of their men in teh attacking part of the pitch and Egypt have possession. Egypt come forward, Saudi Arabia drop into a deep defensive shape and win the ball back, then pass amongst themselves for a bit.
Saudi Arabia attack down the left and Dawsari wins a corner.
6 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Egypt look the more likely to score first at the moment, Saudi Arabia nearly hand Salah a free run on goal with a near-trademark pass to the wrong shirt. You've got to feel bad for Pizzi, the Saudi manager, you can't plan a lot of things if your players are set on giving the ball away under no pressure.
4 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
A shot on goal by Hussain from 20 odd yards is harmless and dragged wide. Egypt try to build from the back but it's out for a throw-in within two passes.
And now Egypt have space to attack! Salah is on the ball wide right, spots a man at the back post and drifts a cross towards him... but the defenders get it clear.
2 mins - Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0
Egypt win a throw-in high up the pitch in the opening seconds, Saudi Arabia clear, Egypt hit a poor pass forward, Saudi Arabia give the ball away. Then Egypt give the ball away.
Then Saudi Arabia give the ball away.
It's not been a great start.
Here we go! Egypt get the game started.
Here come the players
They're pumped! And there are heaps of empty seats :-
I've got statistic crazy! Saudi Arabia haven't won their previous 12 games at a World Cup and Egypt haven't ever won a game.
This is a nice stat too
Oldest player in World Cup history
At the young age of 450... sorry, 45, Essam El Hadary is about to become the oldest player in World Cup history. #scenes
How the teams lineup
The state of the group
If you are interested - not that you would be when Saudi Arabia vs Egypt is happening - but you can get live updates from Uruguay vs Russia in our liveblog by clicking on that highlighted bit of text. Uruguay haven't quite clicked in this tournament and Russia have an amazing power to run very far very fast.
Almosailem; Osama, Alburayk, Salman, Hatan, Yasser, Otayf, Hussain, Salem, Fahad, Motaz
Elhadary; Ali Gabr, Hegazy, Fathi, Tarek Hamed, Marwan, Salah, Abdelshafy, Elneny, Abdalla, Treziguet,
Fans getting in early
Even though it's a dead rubber, Egypt fans are enjoying themselves. Quite a few have already made their way inside the stadium and the players have been out to inspect the pitch. I can confirm that there is grass and sunshine - the two most crucial factors in any game of football. Also a football is needed.
Where is the game today?
Well my friends, that would be the Volgograd Arena!
A battle for... pride?
We're officially over the halfway stage in the World Cup and already we have a game that means absolutely nothing to anybody, other than the supporters of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Things haven't gone as planned for Mo Salah and co, while Saudi Arabia put on about as inept an international football performance - certainly that I've - ever seen in their opening game and offered nothing against Uruguay.
It could have been so different! All that hope. The hope! The hope destroyed when Mo Salah fell to the floor under the weight of Sergio Ramos - one of those unfortunate incidents that helps to write history.
So what do we have today? Well, in the green corner we have a team who try to play like peak Pep Guardiola Barcelona but who don't seem to be able to pass the ball across their backline without conceding a goal, and in the red (or white) we have a team reliant on its one true (broken) star.
Salah clearly wasn't at full fitness in Egypt's crushing defeat to Russia, wisely opting not to go in for risky 50/50s and looking a little short of confidence too, making passes when it's definitely in everyone's best interest that he tries shooting from 30 yards.
Neither team can qualify for the knock-out stages because both have zero points and so today is all about clawing a bit of pride, having a bit of fun and just enjoying the final part of their involvement in this brilliant festival of fitba.
Today might be one of those games where players have a go from 40 yards because why the hell not, forwards might attempt to dribble the length of the pitch just to see if they can, and nobody should really be too fired up.
The points should go to Egypt, who have a far better organised defence and more creative forwards but if Saudi Arabia can get some of those passing moves they used in the early stages of the Russia game on show, might pull of a surprise win.
Team news will be in soon and we'll bring you that and live coverage and analysis of the rest of the game.