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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Preview: Cuper eyes more tests as Egypt face Greece in a World Cup warm-up

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Monday 26 Mar 2018
Mohamed Elneny in action with Portugal
Mohamed Elneny in action with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (Reuters)
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Egypt's coach Hector Cuper is expected to test new players in his squad when the Pharaohs face Greece on Tuesday in the second friendly match of the current training camp in Zurich amid preparations for the World Cup.

The Egyptians still have bad memories from their last encounter against Greece, having lost 6-1 in a humilating match back in 1990. Cuper's men are not driven by revenge, but instead are concerned with improving their performance ahead of the World Cup.

On Friday, Egypt was on the verge of a famous friendly win against Portugal, thanks to a wonderful goal from Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, but Real Madrid's star Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in stoppage time to give his side a 2-1 comeback victory.

"The disappointment is that we lost in the final minutes of the game, but we benefited much from this meeting," Cuper said after the match.

"It was a game against one of the best teams in the world. We needed to test ourselves against world-class teams," he explained.

"Such friendlies always improve your ability to face heavyweight teams," Cuper said. "No one wants to lose, but it was a tough lesson for the team that in the big games we have to make fewer mistakes.

"Our intention is clear to everyone, and we can compete with the heavyweight teams," added the former Inter Milan and Valencia coach.

Cuper, who faced European champions Portugal with his best lineup, could make some changes against Greece to put all players to test ahead of Russia trip.

"There are two opinions inside the technical staff regarding who plays against Greece. Some call for a new squad and others asks for playing with the similar team amid testing some new options," Egypt assistant coach Osama Nabih told Egyptian sports website Filgoal.com.

"The benefits we get from these friendly matches are much important than the results. It is important for us to see the whole 28-man squad (called for Zurich Camp) in the two friendly matches," he concluded.

Stoke City's Ramadan Sobhi, Al-Ain's Huessin El-Shahat, Ittihad Jeddah's Mahmoud Kahraba and Los Angeles FC's Omar Gaber are all expected to get their chance against Greece after missing the Portugal test.

Egypt reached the World Cup finals, which will kick off in Russia in June, after ending a 28-year old drought.

The Pharaohs have been placed in Group A along with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.

The team is due to hold another training camp ahead of the World Cup as they will first play Kuwait then Belgium. A third match will be against South American powerhouses Colombia on 1 June in Milan.

Greece, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, lost 1-0 in Friday's friendly match against Switzerland.     

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

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