Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1298, (2 - 8 June 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1298, (2 - 8 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

A point to be made

The Pharaohs will face Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on 4 June needing just a draw to seal qualification for next year’s Nations Cup finals in Gabon, Abeer Anwar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt needs one more point to qualify for the 2017 Africa Nations Cup after being unable to enter the tournament the last three times.

 Egypt is in Group G together with Nigeria and Tanzania. The Pharaohs have seven points from three games with one game left. With two points from three games, Nigeria has been eliminated. Tanzania’s one point with two games left means it can end up tied with Egypt on points if it beats Egypt and Nigeria.

Tanzania lost 3-0 to Egypt in the first leg in Alexandria in June last year.

The Egyptian squad enter next week’s match in a bit of a muddle after Ahly’s team captain Hossam Ghali was booted out by national coach Hector Cuper for the qualifier against Tanzania after a row with assistant coach Osama Nabih last week.

The media slammed Cuper after Ghali’s dismissal, citing the player’s importance to the team. Cuper told a press conference last week that he was the only one responsible for his choices made in the squad and that all his picks will repay handsome dividends.

It seems, though, that Ghali has won the battle. Ahly chairman Mahmoud Taher backed Ghali to return to play for Egypt after the problem was resolved.  

“The problem between Osama Nabeh and Hossam Ghali has ended,” Taher said. “I held a meeting with Hani Abo Rida (the general supervisor of the Egyptian national team) and we resolved things. Ghali is one of the most important players in Egypt now and I’m sure he will back in the national team soon.”

The 34-year-old, who played for Tottenham Hotspur in England and also had spells in Belgium and Netherlands, has played more than 70 times for Egypt.

The team will also miss the efforts of 18-year-old Ramadan Sobhi of Ahly because of school exams.

“Ramadan Sobhi will not be able to play in the next match because he should be in Egypt for his high school exam,” Egyptian national team director Ihab Lehta announced.

“His exam is on the same day of the match so he will not be with the Egyptian delegation” Lehta said.”That is a big blow for us as Ramadan is one of the most important players in the national team, but we trust in the other players too,” he added.

Sobhi played a big role for Egypt in their last two 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers against Nigeria. He created a goal for Mohamed Salah in Kaduna when the match ended 1-1, and then scored the winner as Egypt won 1-0 in Alexandria in the return match.

The Argentinean Cuper named six foreign-based players in his squad ahead of the Tanzania match including Roma’s Salah, and Arsenal’s Mohamed Al -Nenni.

Cuper also recalled Zamalek’s Mohamed Ibrahim and Ahly duo Ahmed Fathi and Hossam Ashour.

The Pharaohs began their training camp last week Thursday and were due to play a friendly against DR Congo on Sunday, but that game has since been cancelled.

The team travels today 2 June to Dar es Salaam.

Before losing out on the ACN three times, Egypt lifted the trophy three consecutive times, a record, starting in 2006.

A total of 16 teams will qualify to play in the final tournament, from 26 February to 12 March 2017, including Gabon which qualified automatically as hosts. The winners of the 13 group winners will qualify for the final tournament. The two runners-up with the best records among all the groups will also qualify.

Chad was also in Egypt’s group but in March it announced that it had withdrawn from the competition on financial grounds. At that point, Chad had played three matches, and all results were annulled and not taken into consideration according to the regulations. Moreover, the runners-up are now not eligible to qualify as one of the two runners-up with the best records.

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