FEATURE: Can Salah Mohsen make it to the World Cup?
Three months separates the Pharaohs from their first World Cup in 28 years. The clock ticks by and many are wondering, would this be the time for the Egyptian national team coaching staff to consider an aspiring young talent, such as Salah Mohsen, to represent his country in the biggest football event in the world.
The most expensive player in the Egyptian Premier League history, Salah Mohsen has completed his transfer from Enppi to Al Ahly last January in a 5-year-contract in a deal that was estimated to be 40 millions EGP.
Salah Mohsen’s recent form with Enppi caught the eyes of many clubs domestically and internationally, including Borussia Dortmund, Olympique Marseille, Sparta Prague, Austria Wien and Gent, before settling for Al Ahly at the end. So, would the next national team training camp, that is set to start in two weeks, be the time to include Mohsen?
Need for a striker
The pharaohs may be known for their astounding defensive style and tactics attributed to head coach, Hector Cuper; for instance, Egypt has only conceded three goals in the 2017 African Cup of Nations with two of them coming in the final. On the other hand, the team is suffering from a deficiency of strikers, as many players such as Amr Gamal and Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’ have not proved superiority in this position meanwhile Marwan Mohsen has just made his comeback from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury that he had sustained Januar, 2017.
Hector Cuper has been criticized on several occasions that imply that the team mainly depends on Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for getting the goals. The Argentinian head coach used a 4-2-3-1 formation that pushes two defensive midfielders upfront, to block the opponents’ attacks from the midfield and blasts the ball towards the wings. After clearing the ball, the Egyptians would then use their counter-attack speed to build their attacks, using Salah’s superb pace, who eventually go on a one-on-one with the defenders or the goalkeeper. Moreover, Cuper’s defensive style diminishes the strikers’ role as he prefers a forward that can quickly transition from the defensive half to the opposition’s goal rather than having a poacher, who’d require certain build up and assistance from the attacking midfielders.
Young talent with an aspiring future
The Egyptian national team’s coaching staff sees a future in the 19-year-old as the team’s first striker. His recent transfer to Al Ahly will be vital to his development under the Reds’ coach, Hossam El-Badry, and could the gateway to potential future transfer to a European club similar to Ramadan Sobhi. Joining the national team at an early age would be a great moment in his career to learn from his teammates and gain experience. Furthermore, it would be a major advantage for him to be scouted by European clubs who tend to send scouts to national teams matches.
The Sharkia-born striker has been in soaring form during the first half of the season, coming from the youth ranks of ENPPI, he managed to find the net seven time and provided two assists in 18 league appearances with the Petroleum club who finished the half season at the fifth place of Egyptian Premier League table. More remarkably, he scored two goals against Al Masry, Two goals against Makassa and a goal against Al Ahly. Five goals out of seven against last season’s top four in the league.
The Egyptian is considered to be the ‘next big thing’ since Mohamed Salah, possessing immense speed and is highly skillful. He is able to play as center forward, as a second striker or on the wings. A nightmare to defenders, Mohsen is very hard to defend against. He could be playing on the wings and in a minute you’d find him quite deep playing as striker scoring a header or breaking the offside trap as he did against Al Masry. Moreover, he is fantastic in finding spaces in compact defensive zones with his vision and quick turn of pace.
Perhaps one of the most important attributes that Mohsen is missing is international experience. Playing at the World Cup could be a double-edged sword for such a young striker because it could either raise him to the moon or demolish his confidence. Timing is certainly not in favor of Mohsen as he will be starting his international career about three months before the biggest even in world football, which is clearly not enough for a player to obtain the required mindset and ingenuity.
The 2018 World Cup should be an opportunity for the Pharaohs to make a name for themselves internationally, promote its players and why not, become the first African team to reach the semi-finals and would only occur with a squad composed of the most experienced and qualified players.
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