Egypt Friendlies against Guinea and South Africa Review
Disappointment looms after Egypt’s draw and loss against Guinea and South Africa respectively in their most recent friendlies in preparation for the CAF World Cup qualifiers.
Egypt have faced Guinea at home and South Africa away in friendlies as part of their preparation for their CAF World Cup qualifiers where they will start their campaign against Congo.
The first match was held in Borg El Arab against Guinea where Egypt drew 1-1. The hosts were disappointing and started the match without many starters including Mohamed Salah, Ahmed Hegazy and Rami Rabia as the latter two were both injured.
The match featured Sam Morsy’s Egypt debut; he had a decent game as he was looking lively after coming on in the second half. Other English League compatriot Ahmed Elmohamady also came on in the second half after a long time of not featuring for the national team.
Mostafa Fathi was energetic yet wasteful on the wing as he had a couple of dangerous chances that he couldn’t convert into a goal. The goal came from the other winger, Mahmoud Trezeguet, after a beautiful through pass from Abdallah El-Said saw Trezeguet poke the ball past the keeper.
In the second half, Hossam ‘Paulo’ got introduced for his debut after replacing Bassem Morsy in the 65th minute. Guinea then scored after a poor defensive mistake from both Ayman Ashraf on the left and El-Hadary in goal.
Egypt then had a penalty after Walid Soliman was tripped inside the box, but Ramadan Sobhi wasted it after a dispute amongst him, Mohamed Elneny and Hossam Paulo on who’ll take the penalty kick.
The match saw Cuper’s continued instructions of wing focused counter attacks, especially at the right side where Mohamed Salah usually plays and Mostafa Fathi played in that match. The shape was defensive without many attacking plays and the dispute on who’ll take a penalty was an embarrassment as well.
Cuper commented saying he takes responsibility for the mistake of not choosing the order of penalty takers and he also talked about being displeased with the performance and the overall shape of the team.
Egypt’s woes continued after losing 1-0 to South Africa in the in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge match in Orlando Stadium. The starting XI saw the return of Mohamed Salah, Omar Gaber, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy and Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’.
South Africa took the lead early in the first half after Mpho Makola headed a cross from the right side into Shennawy’s net. A poor defensive effort to close down the cross from Abdel-Shafy on the left, lack of defensive coverage from Trezeguet and Ali Gabr’s lack of concentration were all reasons for the goal.
Egypt’s best chances came from both wings especially from Mohamed Salah’s side; the most dangerous one came after Trezeguet made his way inside the box and passed to Koka whose shot inside the penalty box was blocked by the defense.
The second half saw more missed chances with Trezeguet heading the ball off-target after Gaber’s cross and Mohamed Salah missing a couple of great chances also.
The performance was a huge disappointment as mistakes from the Guinea match weren’t corrected like Cuper said and it showed several frailties in the Egypt squad.
Egypt started with arguably their main line-up, apart from Hegazy and Rabia, yet failed to put in a decent performance that would be considered an improvement over the Guinea match.
Cuper was too defensive as usual and dependent on counter-attacks and that was very apparent in these friendlies. Egypt failed to initiate proper threatening attacks on the opponent’s goal and they surely need to attack with more vigour in the future.
The friendlies saw too much dependency from Cuper on Mohamed Salah; Roma’s winger is surely the best talent Egypt have got, but not varying the attacks will put us in trouble for sure.
Cuper is also struggling with the starting striker choice. Koka hasn’t been performing very well for Egypt, Amr Gamal’s form has been horrible for his club, Marwan Mohsen is injured while Paulo has just received his debut and Bassem Morsy could be arguably called the best performance, yet he hasn’t been firing on all cylinders for Egypt until now.
For Egypt to have a chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, vast and quick improvements on the team should be implemented before the first match against Congo and before facing Ghana in a match that will surely need us to be in our best possible form.
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