Egypt and Wadi Degla keeper Essam El-Hadary (Photo: Ahram)
Egypt goalkeeping coach Ahmed Nagy has hailed the effort and determination of veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary ahead of the Pharaohs final African Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania on Saturday.
"I told El-Hadary a few years ago that he would be playing until the age of 50 because of how hard and seriously he is training. He holds on to that word," Nagy told a TV programme on Monday.
The 43-year-old keeper was recalled by coach Hector Cuper last February for Egypt's qualifier against Nigeria for the first time in more than two years.
The Wadi Degla keeper has been included in a 24-man list for the Tanzania game alongside Zamalek's Ahmed El-Shennawi and Petrojet's Mohamed El-Shennawi.
"When we took over [in March 2015] we weren't considering El-Hadary because we were aiming for young and promising keepers. However, his performances and consistency thrust him into our choices," Nagy said.
"He is one of the best keepers in the league and he has great experience, but that does not mean he has guaranteed his place in the starting 11."
El-Hadary is seen as one of the best-ever keepers in Egyptian and African history after guiding his nation to three Nations Cup titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The former Ahly, Zamalek and FC Sion (Switzerland) goalie was given the African Keeper of the Year Award in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Cuper hinted that he may rely on El-Hadary against Tanzania, as first choice keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi has just returned from a six-week injury while his deputy Sherif Ekrami from Ahly did not make it because of injury.
El-Hadary might play the first game for his country since appearing in a Nations Cup qualifier game against Tunisia in November 2014.
The seven-time African Champions need a draw, or even a defeat by less than a three-goal margin, to secure a berth at next year's Nations Cup finals in Gabon, given that they boast a better head-to-head record than Tanzania after crushing them 3-0 in the opening qualifier in June last year.
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