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Squad finalized as Egypt look to keep pace for AFCON 2017
Egypt manager Héctor Cúper has finalized his squad of 24 that will face Chad in Sunday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.
ENPPI goalkeeper Ali Lotfi, Al Ahly forward Mohamed Hamdy Zaki, and Zamalek trio Hamada Tolba, Ahmed Hassan Mekki and Ali Gabr were all cut from the original list of 28, with the latter missing out due to injury.
Meanwhile, AS Roma starlet Mohamed Salah just caught-up with the squad on Wednesday after helping his club to a 2-1 victory over Italian Serie A giants Juventus last Sunday.
“The players have performed excellently during the training camp. It’s very difficult for me naming the final squad that will travel,” Cúper told reporters ahead of trimming his roster.
The 59-year-old Argentine faced some push-back for his original selection, including criticism from Al Ahly coach Fathi Mabrouk.
“[Abdallah] El-Said and [Hossam] Ghaly have been terrific as of late. I think they deserved to be called up,” he told the club’s official channel earlier this week.
“I respect [Cúper’s] opinion but I think his decision to drop the two players is poor.”
Cúper defended his selections in comments made Monday, saying that tactics dictate his squad choices.
“I chose only those whom I believe are playing the best, and who are capable of implementing my philosophy.
“In any case, the upcoming match will tell whether I was right or wrong in my squad selection; only then can everyone judge me,” he added.
He also didn’t rule out including Ghaly in the future.
“I’ve been watching all the players over the past five months and know exactly what I want for the upcoming game. For now, those roles don’t include Ghaly.”
Kick-off in Ndjamena is slated for 2:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. in Egypt).
The Pharaohs are looking to retain top spot in Group G, with only the 13 group winners being guaranteed spots at next year’s AFCON finals in Gabon. The two best runners-up will also qualify.
Egypt tops the group on goal difference, but are knotted with Nigeria on three points.
Nigeria will face Tanzania in the weekend’s other Group G clash.
Egypt leads the all-time series against Chad, winning twice and drawing once. The teams last met in a 2012 friendly in Sudan, with Egypt winning 4-0.
Seven-time champions of Africa, Egypt hasn’t qualified for the region’s showpiece event since 2010, also the last time they took home the trophy.
Goalkeepers: Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly), Ahmed El-Shennawy (Zamalek), El-Mahdi Soliman (Smouha)
Defenders: Ahmed Hegazy, Saad Samir, Hussein El-Sayed, Rami Rabia (Al Ahly), Hazem Emam (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Ahli Jeddah; Saudi Arabia)
Midfielders: Omar Gaber, Ibrahim Salah, Mahmoud Kahraba, Ahmed Tawfik, Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Saleh Gomaa, Ramadan Sobhy, Momen Zakaria (Al Ahly), Mohamed El-Nenny (FC Basel; Switzerland), Mahmoud Trezeguet (Anderlecht; Belgium)
Forwards: Mohamed Salah (AS Roma; Italy), Bassem Morsi (Zamalek), Amr Gamal (Al Ahly), Ahmed Hassan Koka (Braga; Portugal)