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Preview: Gharib eyeing second win as Egypt face World Cup-bound Chile

Egypt prepare for 2015 CAN qualifiers with Chile friendly, who will likely prove to be a tough match for the Pharaohs

Omar Zaazou, Thursday 29 May 2014
Egypt v Chile
Egypt's Mohamed Salah, center, competes with Chile's Mauricio Isla, left, during an international soccer match at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, 6 February 2013 (Photo: AP)
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Egypt manager Shawky Gharib will be seeking his second win at the helm when the Pharaohs visit World Cup-bound Chile in Santiago on Saturday.

Following an impressive 2-0 debut win over other World Cup finalists Bosnia in Austria back in March, Gharib will be looking to continue his auspicious start at the expense of the Chileans.

Chile, however, will be no pushovers on their home turf, with the South Americans, who were beaten only twice in 15 games last year, taking the Egypt friendly seriously – the first of two warm-ups ahead of next month's Brazil finals.

Chile's recent record in friendlies also fortifies the notion that Egypt will have a tough task against their opponents, who managed a draw with World Cup holders Spain and beat England before slumping to narrow defeats against Brazil and Germany.

Even so, Egypt will still be relieved to see Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, who notched 18 goals for his club in all competitions last season, miss the game following a recent knee surgery as his World Cup chances remain in doubt despite making the squad.

Veterans David Pizarro and Humberto Suazo, the 2010 World Cup qualifiers top-scorer, will be also absent after being dropped by manager Jorge Sampaoli for the Brazil finals following a recent dip in the ageing pair's form for the national team.

But much to Sampaoli's frustration, he will be deprived of Fiorentina's Matias Fernandez due to a serious ankle injury that will rule the midfielder out of the World Cup.

Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez still remains a key man for the Argentine coach and will be giving Egypt's rearguard a major headache following an impressive season for the La Liga runners-up that saw him bag 21 goals and 17 assists.

On the other side, Egypt will be relying on Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah in orchestrating their attacks but may struggle to round them off after Ahly striker Mohamed 'Gedo' Nagy was hit with a knee injury that will sideline him for up to six months.

Lierse veteran Hossam Ghaly and Hull City winger Ahmed Elmohamady will also be available, while Portugal-based duo Saleh Gomaa and Ahmed Hassan 'Kouka' were snubbed by Gharib.

Chile, who take on Northern Ireland just five days later, feature in a tough World Cup Group B, including Spain, Holland and Australia – with whom they open their campaign on 14 June.

Egypt also meet Jamaica four days later in London, as they prepare for the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers after being drawn into another crunch group alongside powerhouses Tunisia and Senegal.

Both sides met last year: Chile, who will be making their second World Cup appearance in a row, emerged 2-1 winners in Madrid, thanks to goals from Eduardo Vargas and Carlos Carmona.

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

 

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