Friday,26 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)
Friday,26 April, 2019
Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Aguirre goes for youth

There is a rush of young blood as the Mexican new coach of Egypt’s football team makes his choices, reports Marawan Zayed

Aguirre goes for youth
Aguirre goes for youth

The new coach of the Egyptian National Football Team Javier Aguirre this week announced his squad for his first competitive game with the Pharaohs. Aguirre chose 26 players as the team host Niger in a game that will be played on 8 September in Alexandria as part of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Cameroon.

The squad included many surprises as the Mexican new coach decided to go for youth and build for the future instead of sticking with the veterans and their experience. Apart from the legendary goalkeeper Essam Al-Hadari who announced his international retirement last month, the likes of Ahmed Fathi, Abdallah Al-Said and Mohamed Abdel-Shafi were all overlooked as Aguirre decided to look to the future and picked some new faces for the first time. The Mexican handed debut call-ups to Ismaili duo Baher Al-Mohamadi and Mohamed Sadek, Dakhliya winger Islam Gaber, Pyramids defender Mohamed Hamdi and Ahly youngster Salah Mohsen. The squad witnessed the return of Zamalek goalkeeper Mahmoud “Gennesh” Abdel-Rehim, Ahly defender Mohamed Hani and Smouha forward Hossam Hassan.

In addition to the new faces and those recalled after a long absence, 13 foreign-based players have been invited. On top of the list is Liverpool winger and last season’s English Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah. America-based defender Amr Tarek and Ali Ghazal (Canada) returned to the squad after an absence. However, some were forced to withdraw starting with Ahmed Hassan Kouka as he picked up a knee injury in training with his new club Olympiacos, in addition to Huddersfield’s Ramadan Sobhi and Wigan’s Sam Morsi due to injuries with their clubs.

Marawan Mohsen was drifted in to replace the injured Kouka much to the surprise of almost all Egyptian fans given the extremely poor performance by Mohsen in the World Cup where he failed to make any kind of impact, in addition to being benched by his club Ahly this season and not getting any playing time. But Mohsen will probably start next week’s game since the other three strikers were all picked for the first time with no international experience whatsoever.

Another interesting point if rumours are to be believed is that Aguirre is planning to give the captain’s armband to superstar Salah in the game, given that Al-Hadari retired while Ahmed Al-Mohamadi who’s expected to be the official captain, will probably start the game on the bench. Salah will be given the captain’s armband to give him the responsibility of leading the nation after the disastrous World Cup campaign and to make him feel secure and safe after his recent issues with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).

From now on, Salah who always delivered wonders for the national side, will unfortunately be under additional immense pressure to deliver more than ever after the EFA agreed to do all what he asked for during their bust-up. However, Salah is used to the pressure and should handle it with ease to guide Egypt to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations starting with collecting maximum points against Niger in Alex. Egypt sits at the bottom of the group after suffering a lone goal defeat to Tunisia in June 2017 away in Tunis while Swaziland and Niger drew 0-0 in Niger. Tunisia will be away to Swaziland in the other Group J clash in Mavuso on Sunday 9 September.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Shinnawi (Ahly), Mohamed Awad (Al-Wehda, Saudi Arabia), Mahmoud “Gennesh” Abdel-Rehim (Zamalek).
Defenders: Ahmed Al-Mohamadi (Aston Villa, England), Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich Albion, England), Amr Tarek (Orlando City, US), Ali Ghazal (Vancouver, Canada), Mohamed Hani (Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Ahly), Ali Gabr (Pyramids), Mohamed Hamdi (Pyramids), Baher Al-Mohamadi (Ismaili).

Midfielders: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, England), Mohamed Al-Nenni (Arsenal, England), Sam Morsi (Wigan Athletic, England), Ramadan Sobhi (Huddersfield Town, England), Mahmoud “Trezeguet” Hassan (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Amr Warda (PAOK, Greece), Hussein Al-Shahat (Al-Ain, UAE), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mohamed Sadek (Ismaili), Islam Gaber (Dakhliya).
Forwards: Marawan Mohsen (Ahly), Salah Mohsen (Ahly), Ahmed Gomaa (Masri), Hossam Hassan (Smouha).

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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