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Egyptian National Team

Review: Three Egypt friendlies, zero wins. Time to panic?

Though ’s three friendlies were merely opening acts to the main event, they left much to be desired from the Salah-less side ahead of the World Cup.

Egypt played three friendlies against , , and in preparation for the World Cup in the current break. The Pharaohs won none of the games, drawing and Colombia and losing to Belgium. Friendlies are never a fully accurate way to access the team, especially without star player Mohamed Salah, but it would be difficult to not be concerned by some of the performances.

Kuwait vs Egypt: 1-1

Photo: Kuwait FA

An interesting friendly choice to begin with, the match against Kuwait was looked to as a possible indicator of what the match against Saudi Arabia would be like. However, Egypt quickly learned that the two sides would not be comparable. First, with all due respect to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia is a much stronger side with many of their players playing in the country’s top three teams. Second, if the friendly against Kuwait was supposed to be an indicator then there is much concern since Saudi Arabia’s B team beat Kuwait in the Gulf Cup earlier this year.

Despite these facts, it would be unfair to heavily analyze the friendly. Héctor Cúper put out a starting eleven that will for sure not play together at Russia. For example, it will be hard to see Ramadan Sobhi and Sherif Ekramy starting since both saw little game time last season. Though the choices were odd, we saw the importance of Mohamed Salah to the Pharaohs. For example, Egypt only had one shot on target the entire match and it came in the 81st minute when Ayman Ashraf equalized for the Pharaohs.

The decision making issue was something that was noticed in all of the games, but against an opposition like Kuwait was felt much more. Multiple times we saw players like Sobhi, Warda, and Kahraba rush decisions in the final third leading to attacks losing their danger and crosses and passes going out to corners or throw-ins. In addition, Egypt have failed to figure out how to take advantage of winning corners and throw-ins deep in our attacking third. As a result, the attack dies before it could really gain momentum. Not only does the team not know how to efficiently use crosses and throw-ins, Egypt continue to concede goals from crosses.

Colombia vs Egypt: 0-0

Similar to the match against Kuwait, the match against Colombia was meant to be a benchmark for Egypt’s opening match against Uruguay. The starting line-up was a little bit closer to Cúper’s preferred 11, with the exception of Sam Morsy and Saad Samir. On face value, a 0-0 draw against Colombia is a good result considering their attacking prowess. However, the performance was not one to be applauded.

Yes, no goals were scored, but within 35 minutes Egypt had failed to clear three crosses which Colombia’s players headed just wide or high off target. With the number of goals the Pharaoh’s have conceded from crosses in the past, why has there been no improvement in defending them? It wasn’t just the defense that was shaky, but Mohamed El-Shennawy made countless poor decisions in coming out of the goal and in dealing with crosses. However, it isn’t just him at this point. Each one of Egypt’s keepers made costly mistakes in the minutes they played in the friendlies.

The game left many asking if we would ever score. With Salah and Abdallah El-Said combining, Egypt were scoring in almost every single game. Now, with just Abdallah El-Said and the lack of clinical alternatives it seemed as if Egypt would never score. Does the national team have a replacement for Salah? Quite simply, the answer is no. No one can truly replace the Liverpool attacking midfielder, but it does not seem as if Héctor Cúper has devised away to overcome the loss of such a vital player.

All of these concerns were once again highlighted in the match against Belgium on June 6.

Belgium vs Egypt: 3-0


Photo: EFA

By far Egypt’s hardest friendly of the three, Belgium were on a 17 match unbeaten streak when they faced the Pharaohs. The line-up was the most expected for Egypt with the exception of Trezeguet and Salah potentially starting. It took one minute to highlight Egypt’s first problem: poor tackles. It was a theme throughout the match and was seen multiple times through Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Elneny, and Ahmed Fathi. Not only does it put unnecessary pressure on the referees to give out red cards, it could also cause penalties to be awarded against the Pharaohs.

Marwan Mohsen had a good match, minus his chance shortly before he was subbed off. He was chasing balls and putting pressure on the Belgian defense. However, it is not practical that he is the only striker in the squad and it was evident when he was substituted out of the match. With Trezeguet’s introduction, Amr Warda moved into the striker position, one that he rarely played in for Atromitos Athens. When Mahmoud Kahraba was subbed in, he moved in place of Warda. It was easy to see that neither of them were comfortable playing there, with Kahraba offside more times than could be counted.

In spite of the lack of a striker, Trezeguet added life to what had become a very uncreative match from the Pharaohs. His performances in Turkey have gained attention from some of the country’s biggest clubs and he has become an even more important player for the national team with Salah’s injury. Trezeguet’s decision making and passes were key to what little Egypt created in the second half.

But the biggest talking point will be the defense and goalkeeper. With a combined age of 166 between the starting five, the players are not as young or versatile as they once were. El-Hadary made crucial saves, yet was unable to control the rebound in the build-up to Lukaku’s goal. Ahmed Fathi was easily dribbled past as Carrasco set up Hazard, while the entire defense was left ball-watching after El-Shennawy came out of the goal in Fellani’s goal. It became clear that in matches against stronger offensive teams, the “solid” defense would be easily pierced with chance after chance.

OPINION: 4 omissions that highlight problems with Egypt’s 29-man squad

What do you think? Is there something the national team did really well or really poorly? Comment below!

In addition to being a football/soccer and basketball enthusiast, I am currently pursuing a combined BS/MD degree at VCU. I also currently work as a Pharmacy Technician in my spare time.



  1. Yehya Asker

    June 9, 2018 at 10:03 AM

    It is very clear that we have 5 weak spots. Goalie and Forward are clear problems with no clear answer. However, the other two, right and left backs are problem because Cuper keep playing 2 old slow players (Fathi and Shifo) even that there are better younger options available. They maybe good for local or Saudi scene but too old and too slow for serious international games. Our playmaker (Elsaid) is talented but so slow and so old as well and got even worse this year after his transfer fiasco. The other 6 positions are solid but you can’t expect great results at the World Cup when you only have 6 good positions.

  2. Omar

    June 9, 2018 at 10:19 AM

    I agree with your point wholeheartedly. One thing I must disagree with is Abdul shafy and Ahmed fathy. Apart from Ahmeds mistake for the goal I actually don’t think he played that bad similar to Shafy. For me, our main problem is Abdullah said. He really needs to start shika and then bring in abduklah. Shika has scored numerous goals for Al Raed. Also, Omar Gaber hadn’t played for his new club and Ayman ahsraf is still inexperienced

  3. Gogi

    June 9, 2018 at 2:44 PM

    *5 friendlies, zero wins. With our great coach actively directing our team towards bad results on several occasions. Still, there are people backing up this sham of a coach.
    But then again, it’s Egypt. Even our joke of a “president” still gets enough people cheering for him.

    • Cairo DC

      June 9, 2018 at 4:44 PM

      Gogi your an idiot ……. our jReal joke of a president is in jail and his terrorist organization are running like scared chickens…. however you are correct about Cooper he’s the oppositions best weapon we made the World Cup despite him because salah was able to overcome his terrible tactics……. we qualified in a terrible group by sitting back and hoping inferior teams missed shots….. Ian’s still took a 95th minute penalty at home to qualify…… if he doesn’t allow the team to play and continues to hold them back and have opposing teams take target practice we have no chance if he allows them to play and move up we can beat any team with the world class salah


    June 9, 2018 at 4:39 PM

    lol you wrote wrong. the third goal against belgium, you wrote “the entire defense was left ball-watching after El-Hadary came out of the goal in Fellani’s goal”. It was stupid el shenawai that always does that. Idk why this shit manager is still there. we know our main goalkeeper is el hadary but didnt let him play a full match..he is still very skilled and fit but needed to play at least one match.

    This so called defensive manager is even bad at defending but anyways its a bad play style these days specially when opponent have too much attacking firepower. egypt can play like liverpool with 4-3-3, simple, quick and effective with midfielders choosing sitting back or attacking depending on situation and striker coming deep too to help defense and allow salah to be more free. 4-2-3-1 actually gets messy and doesnt work as expected, moreover striker gets wasted.

  5. Tamer

    June 9, 2018 at 6:13 PM

    I’m not a fan of the manager, his negative approach is not what made us go to the world cup. Salah is what made us get to the world cup despite the manager. And also a helping hand from a very poor Ghana side.

    Very simple, in the last two matches against Columbia and Belgium; we have managed 2 shots on target. Two shots in 180 minutes, its pathetic to be frank. I hope we make it out of the group stages, but I think we’ll be losing all three matches…. I think we have serious problems. Also don’t forget the CAF run to the final was really lucky, we played poorly..… yet got away with it.

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