Al-Ahram Weekly Online   16 - 22 December 2010
Issue No. 1027
Sports
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Joining with Qatar


CELEBRATING with Qatar after it was selected to host the 2022 World Cup, Egypt today plays a football friendly in Doha. The game is not included in the international agenda but it is being used as preparation by the Egyptian side for the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Earlier this month, Qatar became the first Arab country to be awarded a World Cup.

"We do not mind taking part in Qatar's celebrations via this friendly," Samir Zaher, chairman of the Egyptian Football Association, said.

"However, football is what matters most. We are aiming to prepare the national team for the crucial game against South Africa."

Egypt play South Africa in March next year in the qualifiers after gaining only one point from their first two games against lowly Sierra Leone and Niger in Group G.

Egypt's squad for today's match:

Goalkeepers

Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed (Zamalek), Amir Abdel-Hamid (Misri) and Mohamed Sobhi (Ismaili).

Defenders

Wa'el Gomaa (Ahli), Mahmoud Fathallah (Zamalek), Ahmed Dweidar (Police Union), Mohamed Nagib (Police Union), Sherif Abdel-Fadil (Ahli), Mohamed Abdel-Shafi (Zamalek) Ahmed Samir Farag (Ismaili).

Midfielders

Ahmed Fathi (Ahli) Amr El-Sulaya (Ismaili), Islam Awad (Enppi), Ibrahim Salah (Zamalek), Mohamed Abu Treika (Ahli), Walid Suleiman (Enppi), Ayman Hefni (Misr Lelmkasah).

Strikers

Ahmed Eid (Haras Al-Hedoud), Ahmed Abdel-Zaher (Enppi), Mohamed 'Gedo' Nagi (Ahli) and Ahmed Mekki (Haras Al-Hedoud).

Left out was Zamalek's ace Shikabala and Ismaili star Abdullah El-Said despite their stunning performances in the Egyptian domestic league recently.

Shikabala was widely criticised for allegedly feigning injury to skip the Pharaohs' 3-0 friendly win over Australia. He was also accused of lacking commitment by Egypt coach Hassan Shehata when another apparent injury ruled him out of Egypt's opening African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone in September.

In a TV interview, Egypt's assistant coach Shawki Gharib explained Shikabala's exclusion.

"We don't have any problems with Shikabala," Gharib said, adding that it was just a matter of technical perspectives.

"We just want to stick with the squad which played against Australia to help some players gain more experience."

Last month, Egypt used new players in their 3-0 victory over Australia in a friendly in Cairo, including Enppi striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher who opened the scoring for his first international goal.

The seven-time African champions will be without their European-based duo Mohamed Zidan and Ahmed El-Mohamadi who were unable to join the national squad in Qatar due to their club commitments and also because the game is not included on the international agenda.

Egypt may also meet the United States in a friendly in February.

"We are nearing an agreement with the US Soccer Association over a friendly game between the two countries on 9 February," Zaher said.

In the last encounter between the two countries Egypt suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat and were eliminated from the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.

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