Egypt coach Cuper defends squad choice, praises Salah ahead of final training camp

Eslam Omar , Monday 14 May 2018

A week ahead of the final training camp before the World Cup, Egypt coach Hector Cuper defended his decisions

Cuper defends his squad, praises Salah wishing Egypt success at World Cup (Photo: EFA)

Egypt coach Hector Cuper has defended his World Cup squad selections on Monday, speaking a week ahead of the team's final training camp.

Speaking at an Egyptian Football Association press conference in Cairo, the Argentinean said that "it's hard to satisfy all fans and critics" with team choices but said he had made his decisions "with neutrality."

Also speaking at the event, officials from the EFA renewed their praises for Cuper and his squad, who have led Egypt to a place in the most prestigious tournament after 28 years of absence.

'I pick my squad with neutrality'

The 62-year-old coach said there would be room for slight changes in the line-up if needed.

"We made our squad selection very wisely and neutrally. It's hard to satisfy all fans and critics. I myself feel sad when I eliminate an important player. Of course, I make mistakes, but in the end I seek the best for the team and for fans," Cuper stated.

"All players have substitutes and no need to worry. Even Abdullah El-Said has a substitute, and he is Shikabala, but the squad is not final yet. We still have three friendly games to evaluate our choices," he said.

"Eliminating Hussein El-Shahat has been decided, to call up another player, because in case of his joining, we must eliminate either Trezeguet, Ramadan Sobhi, Amr Warda or even Mohamed Salah." 

"Players will come to the camp after very exhausting seasons with their clubs. We are familiar with the toughness of the preparations and we will do our best to avoid possible injuries."

Salah dispute solved

Cuper also spoke about Egypt star Mohamed Salah. 

"We hope Salah continues his amazing performance," he said.

“We are aware there are many great players at Liverpool to support Salah to appear in this form but we are hoping he can make a memorable appearance at the World Cup.”

Association officials were decisive that the recent dispute with Salah regarding image rights has been fully solved, insisting there will be no more talks about the matter.

"All players love their national team and there will be no doubt they will do their best, including Salah as his problem has been totally solved," Cuper added.

The 25-year-old forward has just concluded the best season ever by an Egyptian in the English Premier League, scoring 44 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions this season.

Salah secured all the individual league titles, including top scorer and the Player of the Season, and will get the chance to add to that tally when Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on 26 May.

"I don't want to give advice to Salah. I had a bad experience at the UEFA Champions League. I just wish him all the best," Cuper laughed.

Preparation will be difficult

Cuper expressed optimism about the upcoming camp, praising EFA chairman Hani Abou-Rida for providing three friendly games. They team will start with a match against Kuwait on 25 May, then a week later face Colombia in the Italian city of Bergamo, and finally a match against Belgium in Brussels on 6 June.

"World Cup preparation will be difficult and tough and there are many hard details and we seek perfection," he said.

"I am happy with the Egyptians’ enthusiasm but we don't want to get too emotional. Success needs determination and hard work and we have very good chances at the group stage despite the toughness of our opponents. We are optimistic," he concluded.

Egypt will kick off their Group A games withUruguay on 15 June, then go on to face hosts Russia four days later, before ending the group stage with Saudi Arabia on 25 June.

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