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Friday, 14 August 2020

Football return to be gradual to ensure safety of players, says Egypt coach

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Jun 2020
El-Badry
Egypt coach Hossam El-Badry (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egypt coach Hossam El-Badry said on Sunday the looming return of domestic football would be gradual so that the players remain safe as clubs gear up for the resumption of the Egyptian Premier League.

The country's football association (EFA) said the league could restart on 25 July even though it has yet to release any fixtures, with almost half the season remaining.

Clubs have been running PCR tests before returning to training as mandated by the EFA, with 19 coronavirus cases detected so far among players and non-playing staff at several Premier League sides.

El-Badry would need the players fit by the time Egypt resume their commitments in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers, which are expected to take place later this year.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is yet to settle on the exact dates amid doubts that the biennial tournament would be held in January as previously scheduled.

Record seven-time African champions Egypt were held to draws by minnows Kenya and Comoros in their opening two qualifying games last year. The group winners will advance to next year's Nations Cup finals in Cameroon.

"We are considerate with regards to the return of competitions, which would be gradual to ensure the safety and readiness of the players," El-Badry, who took charge of the national team following their embarrassing last-16 exit at last year's Nations Cup finals on home soil, said on the EFA's official Facebook page.

El-Badry said he is also coordinating with U23 Egypt manager Shawky Gharib over their respective teams' selections, with several players usually called up by both sides, including Ahly winger Ramadan Sobhi and Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed.

Egypt's U23 team have qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which was scheduled to take place this summer but was postponed to next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Every stage has its own priorities. There will be more focus on the senior national team in the coming period because of its commitments, and the focus will then shift to the U23 side given its participation in the Olympics," El-Badry added.

The 60-year-old boss also said Mohamed Salah had made Egypt and Arab countries proud by leading Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 30 years last week.

"He got a big reward for his efforts … I congratulated him for this outstanding achievement," El-Badry said.

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

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