Meet the new faces who shoulder Egypt's AFCON hopes

Four new faces who were not there when Egypt hosted the 2019 African Cup of Nations form an integral part of the team' squad for the Cameroon edition.

Mohamed Mosselhi, Saturday 8 Jan 2022,

Ahram Online takes a look at the four players ahead of the tournament, which kicks off on Sunday.

Ahmed Fattouh (Zamalek)

The U-23 Africa Cup of Nations that took place in Cairo in November 2019 proved a turning point in the career of left-back Ahmed Fattouh, who sealed a loan move to Smouha from Zamalek in the summer of 2019 after failing to establish himself with the Cairo giants.

Fattouh was one of the standout performers as Egypt won the U-23 Nations Cup on home soil to qualify for the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

He was rewarded for his displays when Zamalek brought him back the following summer after his loan spell with Smouha had ended. He also made his competitive international debut when Egypt defeated Togo 1-0 in a Nations Cup qualifier in November 2020.

Fattouh made a previous appearance with Egypt, but it was in a friendly game against Nigeria in March 2019, which the Pharaohs lost 1-0.

The 23-year-old still failed to hold down a regular place under former Egypt coach Hossam El-Badry but was given a new lease of life by his successor, Carlos Queiroz, with the Portuguese relying on him as his first-choice left-back.

Fattouh was a regular starter in three of Egypt's last four encounters in the World Cup qualifiers, with only automatic suspension ruling him out of the fourth game. He was on target when Egypt defeated Libya 3-0 away from home in November.

He was also a key member of Egypt's squad at the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar, helping them finish fourth with a series of superb displays.

Fattouh is known for his ability to penetrate defences down the left, which often sees him score or win penalties. He still has to improve the defensive aspect of his game though.  

Omar Marmoush (Stuttgart)

Omar Marmoush was little known back home before Queiroz gave him a chance to prove his worth on the international stage last October.

The Stuttgart on-loan winger left Egypt's Wadi Degla to join German side Wolsburg in 2017 but was overlooked by different Egypt coaches before Queiroz took over in September.

He was even surprisingly left out of Egypt's U-23 team squad for last summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

However, Queiroz called him up for a World Cup qualifying double-header against Libya and he did not disappoint.

Marmoush shone on his debut, scoring the winner in a 1-0 home win with a superb screamer. He also made a fine impact in the away clash, providing an assist for striker Mostafa Mohamed.

On the club level, he produced convincing performances with Stuttgart, scoring twice and providing three assists in 12 Bundesliga appearances. He was named the Bundesliga's best young player for September.

A product of Wadi Degla's academy, the 22-year-old is likely to be Queiroz's preferred choice as a left-winger, given that Aston Villa's Mahmoud Trezeguet had just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off.

Mostafa Mohamed (Galatasaray)

The Galatasaray man is Egypt's first-choice striker under Queiroz despite playing second fiddle to Ahly's Mohamed Sherif, top scorer of the domestic league last season, when El-Badry was in charge.

Mohamed rose to prominence when he returned to Zamalek in the summer of 2019 after ending loan spells at Tanta and Talae El-Geish.

He made a fine impact with Zamalek in his first season before shining in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil, where he was named the tournament’s top scorer with four goals.

He caught the eyes of Turkish giants Galatasaray and French side Bordeaux before joining the former club on loan in January last year after a long rift with the Zamalek board, which was reluctant to let him leave.

Although he took the Turkish league by storm following his arrival, scoring five goals in his five first matches, he failed to maintain that form towards the end of the season.

The new season was no different as he produced some below-par displays, which saw Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim criticise him more than once and hint that the club could decide against taking up the option of turning his deal into a permanent one.

However, he had a change of heart after Mohamed regained his cutting edge as Galatasaray tied him down to a new three-year contract last month.

The 24-year-old has scored six goals and provided two assists in all competitions with Galatasaray so far this season.

Akram Tawfik (Ahly)

The versatile defensive midfielder also came across a promising player during the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations and the summer Olympic Games. He was instrumental in Egypt's campaign in both tournaments with his tireless effort in the heart of the midfield.

But Tawfik gained his reputation after shining in his new position as a right back.

He took full advantage of the lengthy absence of Ahly's full-back Mohamed Hani last season, with coach Pitso Mosimane giving him a timely chance to establish himself.

The 24-year-old, who found it hard to compete with the likes of Hamdi Fathi and the burly Aliou Dieng in the heart of midfield, grasped his chance with both sides, producing some superb displays that convinced Mosimane to keep faith with him even after the return of Hani.

Like Mosimane, Quieroz also believes Tawfik perfectly fits the right-back position, opting to name him in Egypt's squad at the expense of Pyramids FC's veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi.

The former ENPPI man was also one of Egypt's best performers at the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar.

Tawfik's playing style is similar to that of Ahmed Fathi as both rely on their physical prowess and energy. Both are difficult to break down at the back, although they seldom make useful attacking contributions.

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

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