Vitoria backs Zamalek's Sobhi and Fatouh amid club crisis and praises new faces

Ahram Online , Thursday 9 Nov 2023

Egypt's coach Rui Vitoria defends his decision to call up Zamalek duo Mohamed Sobhi and Ahmed Fatouh to the national team squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Djibouti and Sierra Leone, despite the recent crisis that led to their suspension by their club.



Vitoria said in a press conference on Thursday that he was impressed by the performance and commitment of the two players, who have been regulars in the national team camps. He said he hoped they would not be banned by Zamalek, who accused them of leaving the team camp before the match against ZED FC.

"I have decided to include Fatouh and Sobhi, even though they are currently under investigation at Zamalek, to put an end to the controversy surrounding this issue. I am committed to technical competence and professional ethics in my work," Vitoria said.

He added that he would not exclude them from the African Cup of Nations squad, which will be announced in December, unless they were suspended by their club. He said he only dealt with what happened in the national team, and no one could force him to include or exclude players.

Vitoria also revealed the reason for including Ahly defender Rami Rabia for the first time in the national team, saying he was trying to expand his options in the back line after the injuries of Ahmed Hegazi and Mahmoud El-Wensh.

"Rami Rabia's inclusion in the squad for the first time is a message to all the players that the door is open to them," he said.

The Portuguese coach praised the level of Al-Khaleej Saudi striker Mohamed Sherif, who returned to the national team after missing the last camp.

"Sherif's level has improved in recent months. He was in the September camp but did not play with the national team at that time. He missed the October camp due to difficulty participating," he said.

Vitoria also commented on the exclusion of Pendikspor striker Ahmed "Kouka" Hassan, who has not played for the national team since June. He said he was impressed by Kouka since he was playing in Portugal, and he even thought of signing him for Benfica when he was coaching the Portuguese club.

"Kouka has not participated in the last two matches," he said.

Vitoria said he is happy with the Egyptian national team and has great goals to achieve with the Pharaohs. He admitted that he received other offers, but he said he would only leave if he felt he had no more ambitions to achieve with Egypt.

Egypt, drawn in a challenging Group A alongside Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, will be looking to sharpen their focus for the qualifying campaign with matches against Djibouti on 16 November and Sierra Leone on 19 November.

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