Preview: Egypt begin World Cup qualifying journey away to Congo
Egypt are set to embark on their journey for World Cup qualification by facing Congo away in their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Date : October 9, 2016 at 4:30 PM (CLT)
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers
Stadium: Stade Municipal de Kintélé, Brazzaville, Congo
Egypt are to face Congo away in the first round of the World Cup qualifiers in hope to end the country’s 26-year wait since they were last a participating nation in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Expectations are high, with the three points needed as Egypt are set to face Ghana next at home. The sore loss against Ghana in 2013, when they failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after losing 7-3 on aggregate is still fresh in Egyptian memories. Other than Ghana and Congo, Egypt are set to face Uganda as well in Group E.
Cuper has been leading Egypt in a steady pace and has been so far successful after qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon. The Argentinian’s primary target is to qualify for the World Cup and anything other than that could probably lead to his sacking.
The match will prove to be a tricky one for the Egyptians even though Congo are considered the underdogs. Cuper’s overly defensive tactics could be costly for Egypt as Congo wouldn’t be displeased with a draw; so he’s got to take the game to them and try to grab the away win.
Congo could also pose some serious threat to Egypt’s back line with the pace of Wydad’s Fabrice Ondama, who can be very dangerous as we have seen his abilities against both Zamalek and Ahly in the CAF Champions League. Congo’s manager Pierre Lechantre has got some experience managing Africans and Arabs as he’s got previous stints managing Mali, Qatar, Club Africain as well as winning the 2000 AFCON with Cameroon.
Cuper has some selection dilemmas ahead of the match. The goalkeeper position is probably reserved for Shennawy, but Hadary’s experience could provide some assurance and leadership to Egypt’s back line. Whether Hegazy, who’s been out injured for some time, is match-fit and ready to lead the line is yet to be seen as well. Cuper commented on the Hegazy situation saying: “Although Hegazy just returned from injury and didn’t feature in any game with Al Ahly, I followed him up closely and decided that he should be called up.”
The left wing position faces some serious contention as Mahmoud Trezeguet and Mahmoud Kahraba have been both in form with their respective clubs. Trezeguet has been providing assists at Royal Mouscron and Kahraba has been very influential with Ittihad Jeddah. Ramadan Sobhy is also a great alternative on the left even though he hasn’t been a regular for Stoke City yet.
The striker role proves to be a problem for Egypt right now as only Bassem Morsy and Ahmed Hassan Koka have been called up. Koka hasn’t been really performing up to standard for Egypt until now, but Bassem Morsy could prove to be a decent option upfront. The fact that the Egyptian Premier League’s top scoring striker, Hossam Paulo, isn’t called up has been baffling to some people to say the least.
Predicted Egypt XI:
Ahmed El-Shennawy, Omar Gaber, Ali Gabr, Islam Gamal, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy; Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Elneny; Mohamed Salah, Abdallah El-Said, Mahmoud Trezeguet; Bassem Morsy.
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