FEATURE: Six Egyptians who can still make to the 2018 World Cup squad
Four months before the beginning of the 2018 World Cup, every player who dreams of reaching his utmost potential of playing in the biggest football event of the year and make it to his team’s final 23-man World Cup shortlist, will do anything possible to get recognized by the national team coach, even if it comes to changing clubs.
In this feature, we spot the light on many recent Egyptian players’ transfers, that could prove to be a vital shift in their careers and maybe place them in the pharaohs’ squad at the 2018 World Cup.
The recent winter transfer window witnessed many transfers of Egyptian players domestically and internationally, many of which have joined Gulf countries’ leagues such as Saudi and United Arab Emirates.
Here is my viewpoint on who are the closest players that have the highest probability of joining Hector Cuper‘s national team squad that will travel to Russia next summer.
The Misr El-Makassa loanee to UAE side, Al-Ain, has been undoubtedly, the Arabian Gulf League signing of the winter break. El-Shahat outshone all the expectations, scoring five goals and recording five assists in just five appearances with Al-Ain.
Osama Nabih, the national team’s assistant coach, stated that El-Shahat is on Cuper’s radar and if he continues his fascinating form, he will certainly join the national team upcoming squad in March.
Before joining Al-Ain, the 25-year-old player scored nine goals in the Egyptian Premier League this season and provided four assists in 16 league appearances for Misr El-Maqassa.
One of the best strikers in history of Al Ahly and Egypt, Emad Meteb completed his move to Saudi side Al-Taawoun during the January transfer window, in search of playing time to prove his qualities again. The 34-year-old stated that the recent forms of players such as Shikabala and Kahraba has catalyzed his decision to head to Al-Taawoun.
Meteb left Egyptian league giants, Al Ahly due to lack of participation under coach Hossam El-Badry, who placed him out of the CAF Champions League squad and barely employed him on the field. He managed to score a goal in a club friendly, but yet to score debut official goals with the Buraidah-based club.
Once hailed as the future of Al Ahly and the Egyptian national team, Saleh Gomaa has found himself on Hossam El Badry’s extra player list due to constant disciplinary issues, which resulted in his departure to Saudi side Al-Faisaly on loan for one and a half year.
Gomaa has been included in several national team training camps, and was included in the starting eleven against the crucial qualifier against Congo last October; yet, his recent problems with Al Ahly has placed him out of the squad regularly and raised doubts of him re-joining the national team.
A move to Al-Faisaly could start a new page in his career, where he could seek new opportunities to show his qualities and regain his form.
The 25-year-old, who arrived at Al Ahly in the summer of 2015, finished as Egyptian Premier League top scorer last season while on loan at his former club Misr El-Makassa. However, he hasn’t been getting enough playing time since his return to the Red Castle as he made only 10 league appearances with the Red Devils so far this season, and scoring two goals.
As a result, El-Sheikh renewed his contract with Al Ahly and joined Saudi side, Al-Ettifaq on loan until the end of the season. He managed to score a goal and assist another since he joined the Dammam-based club.
El-Sheikh has previously made the national team training camps several occasions; yet, he only made one official appearance against Togo in an international friendly, and scored one goal.
The former Sporting Lisbon midfielder is regarded as one of the most talented players in the history of Egyptian football. His dribbles, skills and shots are enough for any coach to place him in the starting eleven.
However, the 31-year-old’s inconsistent form with Zamalek, could not send him to Cuper’s list for the vital World Cup qualifiers against Uganda and Congo.
It was not until Shikabala moved on loan to Saudi side Al Raed. The move has sparked life into his playing career with five goals and two assists to his name in nine appearances. His performances earned him a call-up for Egypt’s final group stage match in World Cup Qualifyiers against Ghana where he scored Egypt’s only goal.
After Shika’s goal against Ghana, staying out of controversy in Saudi Arabia and being the star of Al Raed, it would only be logical to have him on the plane to Russia next summer if all remains the same until the end of the season.
Known to be Egypt’s future striker, the new Al-Ahly player has caught the eyes of many clubs domestically and internationally, including Borussia Dortmund, Olympique Marseille, Sparta Prague, Austria Wien and Gent, before settling for the Reds at the end and making him the most expensive signing in the history of the Egyptian Premier League.
Mohsen is most likely to be part of Hector Cuper’s plans, especially for the deficiency the national team suffers from, as many palayers such as Amr Gamal, Marwan Mohsen, and Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’ have not proved superiority in this position.
The 19-year-old has featured for Enppi in 17 official games this season, where he managed to score seven goals and deliver two assists.
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