PREVIEW: Héctor Cúper looks to right the wrongs of Uganda defeat
Skies were bright with raised flags and big fat smiles on every supporter as optimism filled the air ahead of Egypt’s two fixtures against Uganda. Six points seemed easy to grab against the country we knocked-out of the AFCON group stage just a few months prior.
What Went Wrong
The Mandela National Stadium witnessed turning tables at its finest. A bizarre pitch forced the national team to play random pointless long balls through the whole course of the game, with only one clear chance for Abdallah El Said and a couple of Mohamed Salah efforts troubling the Uganda goalie.
However, depression did not reign over the streets of Egypt for too long. Just the following day, a shocking draw between Ghana and Congo made this an unofficial two horse race for the World Cup spot. Seven points are now crucial for Egypt to steal the first spot and avoid any head to head calculations. The next step is the most important one, beating Uganda with a two goal difference.
The Cúper changes
Head coach, Héctor Cúper shared some intentions post-match, “In the return leg we might make two or three changes to the starting line-up, that is something we will have to decide after reviewing this game.”
According to OnSport, all the rumours and speculations of ditching Abdel-Shafy are completely false. On the contrary, it is Ahmed Fathi who might lose his right back spot to Ahmed Elmohamady as the veteran might take a midfielder role in what the channel claims to be Cúper’s twist in the formation.
Salah will be leading the team on the right wing, as Mahmoud Trezeguet, Mahmoud Kahraba and Ramadan Sobhi will fight for a spot on the opposite flank. The last starter expected to warm the bench would be Abdallah El Said, with Saleh Gomaa likely to take the creative role in the middle.
OnSport assured there will be no more unorthodox strikers in this game, as Ahmed Hassan Kouka has a slightly better chance of starting ahead of Amr Gamal in the Prima Punta role for the national team in Cúper’s traditional 4-2-3-1 formation.
The not so tactical Cúper formation is up to the challenge of facing the unbreakable backline of Uganda who have kept a clean sheet in all of their three 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. With two wins and a draw, no team has been able to put the ball past, shot stopper, Denis Onyango.
Egypt will need to wear out their counter-attack strategy and find a way to express absolute dominance at Borg El Arab Stadium.
Determination is key
After the last game, players were sobbing as they know this is Egypt’s easiest chance of qualifying to the World Cup since 1990. When Salah and his teammates bless the pitch this Tuesday, 5th September, they need to revive what Cúper first saw when he took charge of the team.
“I have found players with a real desire to work and a love for their country. They have shown humility and solidarity; they have focused on a common, shared objective. That’s not so normal these days.”
Fans are expecting nothing less than a masterclasses in defense, visionary passing from midfielders and bags of goals in attack.
Can the squad bang their hands on their hearts for this victory?
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