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Egypt open to calling up new players before World Cup, says assistant coach

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Jan 2018
Nabih
Egypt assistant coach Osama Nabih (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egypt is open to testing new players during a March training camp as they begin their preparations for the World Cup, assistant coach Osama Nabih said on Tuesday.

The Pharaohs will play two friendly games against Portugal and Bulgaria during the training camp in Switzerland.

"We are monitoring all Egyptian players, especially those who are playing in the Arab Gulf," Nabih told an Egyptian radio station on Tuesday.

"Our door is open for any player can prove his worth."

Egypt's Argentinean coach Hector Cuper is criticized by some pundits for snubbing several promising footballers in the domestic league, including Ismaily goalkeeper Mohamed Awad and Maqassa's versatile midfielder Hussein El-Shahat.

Critics say Cuper usually favours his old guard even if some of the players are not performing well. However, Nabih insisted that everyone has an equal chance to be called up.

"We are happy with Hussein El-Shahat's performance and we are also waiting to see Emad Meteb in action (following his move to Saudi Arabia's Al-Taawoun)," he added.

"The players' performance is our only criteria for selection and Shikabala's case is the proof."

Winger Mahmoud Shikabala, who is on loan at Saudi side Al-Raed from Cairo giants Zamalek, earned his first Egypt call-up in three years when he took part in the team's final World Cup qualifier against Ghana in November, scoring the only goal in a 1-1 draw.

Nabih also denied having any problems in the goalkeeping position, confirming that Awad remains part of the team's plans.

Ahly's Sherif Ekramy and Zamalek's Ahmed El-Shennawi, who are the usual back-ups of veteran guardian Essam El-Hadary, have produced some shaky displays lately, leading to calls for Awad to be called-up.

"Ekramy and El-Shennawi are good keepers but they have been out of form recently. We will evaluate their performances before the upcoming preparation camp and we will see," Nabih said.

"Concerning Awad, he was a regular member of our squad during the previous four training camps."

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