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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Mohsen's return perfectly-timed for Egypt amid lack of striking talent

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 28 Feb 2018
Marwan Mohsen
Egypt's Marwan Mohsen celebrates after he scores a goal against Tunisia in a friendly game in January, 2017 (Reuters)
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Marwan Mohsen's return to action comes at a perfect time for an Egypt side that is still looking for a reliable striker as they gear up for their first World Cup appearance in 28 years.

The Ahly frontman scored his first goal in 14 months and created another to set the team on their way to a 3-0 victory over Dakhleya on Wednesday which put them one win short of winning the Egyptian Premier League for the third straight season.

A corner ricocheted off his back and into the corner of the net eight minutes following his second-half introduction as Ahly broke the resistance of Dakhleya with an opening goal in the 65th minute.

He laid off the third for Walid Azaro when his flick over a challenger found the Moroccan striker, who lashed home with four minutes remaining to complete the rout.

Mohsen has only returned to action in December after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury whilst on international duty with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations in early 2017.   

He was Egypt's number one choice upfront, perfectly fitting in the role of a target man in coach Hector Cuper's strategy although he could not score in the few games he played at the Nations Cup in Gabon.

However, when he suffered the serious knee injury in the 1-0 quarter-final win over Morocco, Egypt struggled without his presence, needing a shootout to sneak past Burkina Faso in the semis before losing 2-1 to Cameroon in the final.

What Egypt had clearly lacked against Burkina Faso and Cameroon was a muscular, out-and-out striker who can link up with three attacking midfielders to carve out openings, even if he does not often find the target.

During the World Cup qualifiers, Cuper tested Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Saudi-based winger Mahmoud Kahraba in the number nine position but neither made a notable impact after having to drift away from the flanks, where they can best showcase their dribbling skills.

Portugal-based striker Ahmed Kouka and Amr Gamal, who plays on loan at South Africa's Bidvest Wits, were also not very convincing when they spearheaded the attack, leaving Cuper with little options amid a lack of striking talent in the domestic league.

Mohsen, 29, has only scored four goals in 17 international appearances since making his Egypt debut in 2011 but he could still be the most reliable option at Cuper's disposal when the Pharaohs take part in the World Cup next summer in Russia.

He is likely to be called up by Cuper for Egypt's friendly games against Portugal and Greece next month in Switzerland as the team hold their first training camp for the World Cup. They will play Uruguay, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia at the football's most prestigious showpiece.

"I'm doing my best to join Egypt's training camp in March. If that does not happen, I will keep working to be part of the team at the last training camp before the World Cup," Mohsen said in a television interview following Ahly's win over Dakhleya.

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

 
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