Egypt coach Aguirre says he owns final decision on selection of AFCON squad

'I don't allow anyone to interfere in my work. Once someone asks me to select a definite player, I will depart Egypt immediately,' Aguirre said

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Sunday 26 May 2019,

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre said that the desire to win this summer's African Cup of Nations title at home was a key reason for calling the names he did in the preliminary squad.

"I am the only one who is responsible for selecting players for Egypt team," Aguirre said in an interview with Time TV on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Mexican tactician unveiled a 25-man squad that will start a preparatory camp for the prestigious tournament at home, facing wide criticism from footballers and fans over who was included and who was dropped.

"I talk to my assistants and all people around me, but finally I take the final decision," the 60-year old coach explained.

"I don't allow anyone to interfere in my work. Once someone asks me to select a definite player, I will depart Egypt immediately," he added.

New strategy

Ahly's playmaker Walid Soliman (34 years old), who announced his international retirement months ago, was the prominent name on the squad, alongside Pyramids FC's midfielder Abdallah El-Said (33), who hasn’t been on the national team since the appointment of Aguirre.

"Firstly, we were depending on youth players to prepare a team for the 2022 World Cup, but I changed my strategy after seeing Egypt winning the hosting rights of the African Cup. We turned our attention to experienced players as we want to win the title," said Aguirre.

"We are favourites to win the title since the tournament will be played at home, besides having Mohamed Salah, the best player in Africa.

"We began to select the squad since last March. We had 40 players reduced to 30 players and then 25. It is normal that all players don't join the team and this happens all over the world.

"I called Walid Soliman and Abdallah El-Said as they have the experience that I want in the current period. It was difficult to call them before taking the hosting rights because they won't participate at the World Cup," the former Mexico and Japan coach said.

Confidence in Abou-Elfotouh

Despite their absence from recent selections, Egyptian league top-scorer Ahmed Aly and Smouha's left-back Ahmed Aboul Abou-Elfotouh were among those selected, while Ahly and Zamalek wingers Ramadan Sobhi and Mahmoud Kahraba were the prominent absentees.

The technical staff was heavily criticised for preferring Aboul Abou-Elfotouh over Zamalek’s in-form left-back Abdallah Gomaa and also for dropping Sobhi and Kahraba, but Aguirre defended his point of view.

"I have liked Abou-Elfotouh's play since he was playing at Zamalek at the season’s start. His abilities are very good in comparison to his age.

“In the friendly match against Nigeria, we received an early goal after a personal error from Abou-Elfotouh. Any young player like him would fall after this situation, but surprisingly he recovered quickly and delivered an outstanding match.

"I monitored Abou-Elfotouh closely and he is a promising player, but as I have now three options in the left side, he may be dropped from the final squad," the coach added.

When asked about the goalkeeping position, Aguirre said that he didn't settle on first choice goalie in the African Cup yet.

"I didn't choose a definite name yet, but I have full confidence in the four selected keepers," he said.

Ahly's Mohamed El-Shenawy, Ahemd El-Shennawi (Pyramids FC), Mahmoud Genish (Zamalek), Mohamed Abou-Gabal of Smouha were all selected in the preliminary squad.

"We have a good chance to reach the final and win the title. The current Egypt squad contains seven or eight players who can continue playing for years," Aguirre concluded.

The 25-man squad is due to start a preparatory camp 6 June and play two friendly matches: the first against Tanzania on 13 June, and the second against Guinea three days later, at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium.

Egypt will host the Nations Cup, which has been expanded to 24 teams, from 21 June to 19 July.

The record seven-time African champions will play in Group A along with DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Egypt will kick off the tournament by playing Zimbabwe on 21 June.

"We called up two extra players in case we could face any injures in the coming period. The final 23-man squad will be submitted on 11 June," Egypt's assistant coach Hany Ramzy said early Tuesday.

With Aguirre at the helm, the Pharoahs are seeking to win the prestigious title for the first time since 2010, the last of their record seven victories.

Egypt reached the final of the 2017 edition, only to lose 2-1 to Cameroon.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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