MOSCOW (AP) – The Latest on Friday at the World Cup (all times local):
Iceland is showing the charming, funny, friendly style that has won friends worldwide ahead of a World Cup debut against Argentina.
Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson acknowledges a “headache” preparing to face Lionel Messi on Saturday in “the biggest game in the history of Icelandic football.”
Hallgrimsson also knows the Nordic island of 330,000 people has global support from its fairytale run at the 2016 European Championships.
“It’s a pretty little nation and pretty people in general. You can’t but love us,” the coach said in Icelandic at a packed news conference at Spartak Stadium.
If Iceland really is every neutral’s favorite at the World Cup, it might be the only army it needs.
“We haven’t attacked anyone, we haven’t been at war with anyone,” Hallgrimsson said, before citing a 1970s fisheries dispute with Britain. “We have only had the Cod War and nobody got hurt there.”
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez entered this World Cup in search of redemption following a championship history checkered with bad boy moments on the pitch.
So far he’s getting no love from fans of opposing Egypt. The Pharaohs’ faithful greeted him with a sustained chorus of boos when he announced as a Uruguay starter.
Suarez was cast into the role of villain beginning with the 2010 World Cup when his blatant handball prevented a Ghana goal and eventually denied the African team a chance to advance.
Four years later, he earned a nine-match ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil. The referee didn’t catch the incident and yielded a corner to Uruguay, allowing it to score and eliminate Italy from the tournament.
Egypt supporters were equally boisterous in cheering their striker Mohamed Salah when he walked onto the field. Salah was in uniform but not starting as he recovers from an injury.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he worked hard on the effort to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America and thanked Bob Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution.
Trump signed letters to FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressing confidence World Cup delegations and fans would be welcomed for the tournament. Although of no legal force, the letters were used in lobbying by the U.S. Soccer Federation and the joint North American bid competed against Morocco’s. The North American bid won 134-65 in voting by FIFA members on Wednesday.
Trump tweeted Friday “Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada. I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people. We never fail, and it will be a great World Cup! A special thanks to Bob Kraft for excellent advice.”
Kraft became honorary chairman of the bid last July, worked to obtain U.S. government support and helped gain the support of federations.
France coach Didier Deschamps has always been clear with his players since taking charge six years ago: there is no “I” in team.
Deschamps, however, has made an exception with Antoine Griezmann, stopping short of criticizing the star striker a day after he theatrically announced his decision to stay with Atletico Madrid during a television show. The program, called “The Decision,” was broadcast on Spanish TV on Thursday, just two days before France’s opening World Cup game against Australia.
Griezmann has been mocked on social media for the way he promoted his announcement in the 45-minute special that included footage of him getting a tattoo and eating popcorn.
Asked about what he thought about the timing of his player’s announcement, Deschamps said he didn’t care. He said that “it’s a very good thing for his club. You might think the format (he picked) matters. I’m more interested in the substance.”
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will start in Uruguay’s opening World Cup group A game against Egypt, which will be missing star Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.
Suarez is hoping his football prowess gets more attention in Russia than his disciplinary issues did at the previous two World Cups in South Africa and Brazil.
Uruguay lineup: Fernando Musiera, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin (captain), Guillermo Varela, Rodrigo Bentancur, Nahitan Nandez, Luis Suarez, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Matias Vecino, Edinson Cavani, Martin Caceres.
Egypt will starts its opening Group A match against Uruguay without injured forward Mohamed Salah, and with veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary on the bench.
Salah injured a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month’s Champions League final. Marwan Mohsen will be playing upfront.
Mohamed El-Shennawy will start in goal after being selected in front of 45-year-old El Hadary, who is hoping to make history by becoming the oldest player to play in a World Cup game .
Egypt lineup: Ali Gabr, Ahmed Hegazy, Ahmed Fathi, Tarek Hamed, Marwan Mohsen, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, Mohamed Elneny, Abdallah El Said, Mahmoud Hassan, Amr Warda, Mohamed El Shennawy.
Mohamed Salah is on the bench for Eygpt’s first World Cup game since 1990 after injuring a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month’s Champions League final.
Salah was the Premier League Player of the Season after scoring a league-leading 32 goals and 44 in all for Liverpool last season.
He left the Champions League final in tears on May 26 after he was injured by Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos in a challenge by the Spaniard.
The head of the Palestinian Football Association faces FIFA punishment for urging fans to burn photos of Lionel Messi if Argentina played a World Cup warmup game in Jerusalem.
FIFA says it opened disciplinary proceedings against PFA president Jibril Rajoub because of comments “widely reported in the media.”
Argentina called off a game against Israel earlier this month after protests by pro-Palestinian groups.
Rajoub had called for Arab and Muslim fans to burn photos and T-shirts of Messi, the Argentina and Barcelona superstar, if he played.
FIFA did not specify when the case will be judged.
Argentina opens its World Cup program Saturday against Iceland.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca will not commit to playing recently reinstated striker Paolo Guerrero in their World Cup opener against Denmark.
Gareca’s only promise in a news conference Friday is that if Peru’s all-time goal scorer gets into the game, he’ll be fit and ready.
The 34-year-old Guerrero was allowed to play in the World Cup only after a doping suspension was frozen by a Swiss Supreme Court judge.
The striker has played few games since FIFA’s initial suspension in November.
Guererro was Peru’s top goal scorer in South American World Cup qualifying, netting five in the campaign.
Team captains of Peru’s rivals in Group C recently asked FIFA to lift Guerrero’s suspension so he could play against France, Denmark and Australia.
Guerrero has blamed his test failure on a tainted cup of tea at a Lima hotel.
Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita will not play in the World Cup because of a right hamstring injury.
The Costa Rican federation says Matarrita will be replaced on the Ticos’ roster by Kenner Gutierrez.
Following training at the team’s St. Petersburg camp, the left back had an MRI which confirmed the injury. Matarrita, who plays for the MLS club NYCFC, will miss at least two weeks.
Costa Rica is preparing to play Serbia in its World Cup opener on Sunday in Samara. The Ticos are hoping to improve on their finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when they advanced to the quarterfinals.
Matarrita was one of six players from Major League Soccer on Costa Rica’s roster.
Gutierrez plays for Alajuelense in Costa Rica’s top division.