No Egyptian player is guaranteed the chance to represent Egypt at the 2018 World Cup finals, according to coach Hector Cuper, who is optimistic about his team's chances at the world's most prestigious tournament, which will kick off in Russia in June.
"Playing at the World Cup isn't guaranteed for any player. Any player can be replaced at any time," Cuper said on Tuesday in a press conference held to announce the national team's preparatory programme for the World Cup.
"I didn't find a team that makes crucial changes before the important matches, but we will continue monitoring and searching until we reach the final 23-man squad," he added.
Cuper took over the Pharaohs in March 2015, leading Egypt to the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and reaching the 2018 World Cup finals to end a 28-year old drought.
Egypt have been placed in Group A along with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.
"I can't say that our group is easy or a difficult one. I can't underestimate any team. Uruguay coach recently told the team's supporters not to expect Egypt as an easy opponent. This was a message for all to respect all our opponents. There is no bet on Egypt to proceed, but who can take away our enthusiasm or the desire to reach the tournament's next round?
"We are optimistic about our chances at the World Cup. There must be surprises and a black horse in every big tournament. We work hard and I hope we win all our matches," said the former Valencia and Inter Milan coach.
"You can't underestimate the Egyptian league, because the current foreign-based players were playing here in Egypt before moving abroad. I see that the Egyptian league is a strong one," he said.
Ronaldo, Portugal a strong preparation for Egypt
The Pharaohs will hold two training camps ahead of the World Cup.
The first camp for the seven-time African Champions will be held in Switzerland from 20 to 28 March. They are due to play two friendly matches against Portugal and Greece on 23 and 27 March respectively.
In the final training camp before the World Cup, Hector Cuper's men will first play Kuwait then Belgium. A third match will be against South American powerhouses Colombia on 1 June in Milan.
"We are working on improving our performance at the World Cup. We will try many things against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo [in the friendly match on 23 March]," Cuper Explained.
"We always respect our opponent. Even if it is Europe's champions Portugal, it is a very strong and important game.
"The technical staff have studied Portugal and Ronaldo well, as we did with Uruguay and their stars Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and we will see what will happen in the match.
"I can't reveal my plan for countering Ronaldo; all I can say is that he is the best player in the world," the coach concluded.
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