Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s most important game in years

The African qualifier clash against Ghana will help decide who goes to the 2018 World Cup, reports Marawan Zayed

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s most important game since facing Ghana nearly three years ago is just few days away, and happens to be against the same opponent. Yes, it’s Ghana once again in a game that could very well decide if Egypt will have a place in Russia’s 2018 World Cup. A win for the Pharaohs will see them go five points clear of group favourites Ghana after Egypt managed to collect maximum points from the first game away against Congo while Ghana suffered a shock result as they drew 0-0 at home against Uganda.

Egypt’s Argentine coach Hector Cuper insisted that he and his men are more than ready to face Ghana and that the 23 players picked are ready to fight till the death to win the game on Sunday 13 November in Egypt.

“I’m not a magician and if I was one, then there would be no need to work or put effort to win the game, but I can assure everyone that me and my assistants will do everything we can to win the game but magic won’t be one of the tools,” Cuper first said in a press conference.

“What really motivates me and gives me great hope of winning the game is the desire and determination I see in the 23 fighters I picked. Every single one wants to play in this game specifically but let’s not forget that Ghana’s game is just three points out of 18. I have an outstanding squad and I believe that my players believe in my plan for the game even though I know that some people might disagree with my choices but I can’t pick more than 23 players. I have no reason to freeze out specific players as the aim of all of us is just the same, which is a place in Russia.”

Cuper also stressed that the horrific 6-1 defeat at the hands of Ghana three years ago will have no impact on his players in this upcoming game. He said that was why he did not listen to those who wanted him to avoid picking many players from the ones who played in that game.

“Yes, I picked several players from the ones who lost to Ghana in that game but I have complete faith in them and all of us including them are hugely optimistic and there was no way I’d avoid picking them.

“[Roma star Mohamed] Salah is one of those players and obviously he’s our main man now and I’m pretty sure all the players picked are just focussed on collecting all three points from the game. I won’t talk about tactics in the press conference but I’ll build my game plan on Ghana’s weak points.

“The current Ghana team is still very strong and that’s why everyone said they’re favourites to win the group but I believe in my players big time and also the fans will play a crucial part in this game.”

However, the worrying and frustrating thing for Cuper is the number of injured players that had to withdraw from the squad. “Of course, I’m not pleased to lose any player to injury but we replaced them with some very good players, so no problems. Players like Mohamed Salah and Abdullah Al-Said are crucial to my plan especially when it comes to set pieces.”

The Ghanaian side will surely be aiming to make up for the disappointing result of their first game as they know that a defeat could very well make their task extremely hard especially if Uganda, as is expected, defeats Congo at home. This will see Ghana chasing both Egypt and Uganda.

There is no doubt the game will be very difficult for both teams but let’s hope our Egyptian national team will expose Ghana’s slow defence via Salah’s explosive speed and Al-Said’s killer passes.

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