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Preview: Egypt to test fringe players in last Nations Cup qualifier against Niger

Ahram Online , Friday 22 Mar 2019
Egypt hammered Niger 6-0 in the Nations Cup qualifier in September 2018 (Reuters)
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Egypt are set to field several fringe players who are unlikely to be part of their African Nations Cup squad when they take on Niger in their last qualifying game for the tournament which the country will host in the summer.

Already qualified virtue of their point tally before being granted the hosting rights of the 21 June-19 July Nations Cup, the Pharaohs play Niger away from home on Saturday in a dead-rubber.

However, the match should give Mexican coach Javier Aguirre the chance to test some players who shone in the domestic league, although few can actually make it to the final cut at the Nations Cup.

"Aguirre has settled on 80 or 90 percent of the names that will join our squad at the African Cup. We feel comfortable as we are guaranteed a spot at the finals that will be played at home," assistant coach Hany Ramzy told MBC Masr TV channel last Wednesday.

"The final squad will be announced in two months, so will involve a bigger vision after we have seen the new faces play at this camp. Leaving out some players this time doesn't mean that they won't join the team again."

The new uncapped faces include Pyramids' in-form midfielder Nabil Emad, Ismaily winger Abdel-Rahman Magdi, Smouha left-back Ahmed Aboul-Fotouh and Talae El-Geish striker Mostafa Mohamed.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and West Bromwich defender Ahmed Hegazi were rested for the game. 

Egypt will also face Nigeria in a friendly on Tuesday and are expected to arrange more warm-ups before the Nations Cup gets underway.

Under Aguirre, Egypt have won four straight qualifying games to sit joint top of Group J with 12 points, on level with Tunisia. They have scored 15 goals and conceded only four in the process, with the new manager's attacking schemes drawing admiration from many fans.

Egypt won the last of their record seven Nations Cup titles in 2010. They also reached the final of the 2017 edition in Gabon, where they lost to Cameroon.

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