Aguirre says Egypt's hosting of Nations Cup led to strategy shift

Ahram Online , Friday 7 Jun 2019,
Javier Aguirre
Egypt coach Javier Aguirre (L) during a training session (Photo: the Egyptian Football Association's Facebook page)

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre only decided to bank on experience in his squad when the African Nations Cup was moved to the country from Cameroon, the Mexican boss said on Friday.

Since taking over in August last year, Aguirre has mainly relied on fresh flood, omitting those who are over 30 as he sought to rebuild a side reeling from an embarrassing group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup which saw them lose all three matches.

But when Egypt was named the new host of the Nations Cup in January after Cameroon was stripped off the hosting rights, the 60-year-old shifted his strategy to include some veterans who would be capable of handling the pressure of playing before some 80,000 supporters at the Cairo Stadium fortress.

"Egypt's hosting of the Nations Cup opened the door for some experienced players," Aguirre said in an interview with the Egyptian Football Association's official website, which was published in Arabic.

"We want to make the most of their experience and recent fine displays," he added, referring to the likes of Pyramids playmaker Abdallah El-Said and Ahly winger Walid Soliman.

El-Said, a 33-year-old classic schemer, was one of Egypt's key players under Aguirre's predecessor Hector Cuper. While the 34-year-old Soliman was seldom picked during Cuper's reign, he caught the eyes last season with a series of impressive displays with Ahly, the country's most popular club.

The other two over-30 players are Aston Villa's right wingback Ahmed Elmohamady (31) and Arab Contractors striker Ahmed Ali (33), who is the Egyptian league's top scorer with 18 goals.

"I'm very happy to have El-Said and Soliman in my squad; they provide different qualities. Ali will also enhance competition in the frontline. I called him up before but he was unlucky with injuries," Aguirre added.

Egypt will play in Group A along with Zimbabwe, Uganda and DR Congo. They open their campaign against Zimbabwe on 21 June.

"The three teams are similar to a big extent in terms of organization. They have pace which they perfectly use to hit their opponents on the break," Aguirre said.

"This will put us under pressure and we will have to be fully focused on taking our chances."

The former Mexico boss also said Egypt need to make the most of their home advantage. The Pharaohs won the title the last time they hosted the tournament in 2006.

"You [the fans] have a big role to play to help us win the trophy. Don't waste this chance," he added.

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


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