Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt's 11

For the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, Cuper picks 11 names playing abroad, Marawan Zayed reports

#Gabr #Kouka # Al-Mohamadi
Al-Ahram Weekly
# # #

Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Al-Nenni are the biggest names out the 11 who play abroad called up by Hector Cuper for the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon starting this month.

The other names include Braga’s Ahmed Hassan Kouka who will surely play a crucial role in the tournament, Hull City’s Ahmed Al-Mohamadi, Basel’s Omar Gaber, Stoke City’s Ramadan Sobhi, Excel Mouscron’s Mahmoud Trezeguet, Panetolikos’ Amr Warda, Lens’ Karim Hafez and the former Zamalek stars Mohamed Abdel-Shafi and Kahraba who play for Ahly Jeddah and El Ittihad respectively.

Cuper is surely delighted with the outstanding form of most of the chosen stars as he gets ready to travel with the national side to Gabon to take part in his first Africa Cup of Nations and Egypt’s first after three no-show tournaments. In fact, most of the players in the squad will take part in the biggest African tournament for the first time ever, hoping they can get the Egyptian national team to where we belong once again.

Without doubt, Salah of Italy’s Roma will be our star man in the tournament and our relatively minor chance of lifting the trophy will depend on his performance big time. From the other names only Al-Nenni of Arsenal and Abdel-Shafi will be guaranteed starters for Cuper in Gabon as Kahraba, Sobhi and Trezeguet will all fight it out to earn one place in the front three attackers alongside Salah and Abdullah Al-Said. Kahraba has been in the form of his life with El Ittihad as he scored 12 goals and set up another seven so far this season and even scored and assisted against Atletico Madrid in a seriously taken friendly game that ended in a 3-2 win for the Spanish side. Kahraba was chosen as man of the match as he continued his unbelievable form for his club which left Cuper with no other option other than calling him up even though the fight between Trezeguet and Sobhi for that place on the wing is already on fire.

Up front, Kouka will have to convince Cuper to start him ahead of Bassem Morsi who’s not at his best with his club Zamalek at the moment. Gaber might have to settle for a place on the bench given he’s been somehow frozen out at his club Basel after losing his place in the starting 11 earlier in the season. At the same time Ahmed Fathi is in excellent form for club and country and his performance against Ghana reminded everyone that he remains Mr Dependable and simply enjoys playing in the big games against big names. It would be a huge surprise if Gaber started ahead of him come the first game of the tournament against Mali.

Amr Warda might be in good form for his Greek club but his chances of finding a place in the starting lineup seems to be as slim as it gets as Cuper surely believes that while he is a useful member of the squad for now, he is more of a future star. The same goes for Karim Hafez who’s one for the future and joined the national team for the sake of experience more than anything else if the reports are to be believed.

Al-Mohamadi, who has been a key figure for Hull City in the last few years and who’s probably the first name on their team sheet every week, is surely bewildered by how difficult it is for him to see any kind of action with the national team in recent squads. The evergreen full back is obviously not Cuper’s cup of tea and has been frozen out from the national team’s squads for nearly a year unt il he earned a call-up for Ghana in last year’s World Cup qualifier where he warmed the bench alongside fellow full back Gaber. Al-Mohamadi is heading to Gabon knowing he’s not even the first back-up right back as Gaber will probably be the second option behind Fathi.

Cuper will face a huge dilemma when he picks his starting lineup against Mali as the squad is full of in-form stars who’ll be hoping to find a place for themselves on the team. Ghana and Uganda make up the other teams in Egypt’s group.

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