Preview: Experimental Egypt face Jamaica in London

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 3 Jun 2014

Egypt play Jamaica in London their third friendly under new coach Shawky Gharib as they prepare for the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers

Chile's Alexis Sanchez (L) and Egypt's Mohamed Abdelshafy fight for the ball during their friendly soccer match in Santiago, May 30, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt coach Shawky Gharib will continue to experiment with many new players when his side face Jamaica in London on Wednesday as he seeks to settle on the best possible selection before the team begin their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

The Pharaohs gave Gharib a winning debut when they beat World Cup-bound Bosnia 2-0 in March before slumping to a 3-2 defeat at Chile in a thrilling friendly last Saturday, having squandered a two-goal lead.

Gharib has more questions than answers though, particularly in defence as a porous backline featuring some sluggish defenders gave Chile too much space, with the retirement of Ahly's Wael Gomaa leaving Egypt's rearguard short of quality

They are also struggling without Mohamed Abou-Treika, who retired from football last year. Although Egypt's squad boasts several creative players including Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah, Abou-Treika's neat, defence-splitting passes are sorely missed.

The Pharaohs will face Jamaica without the players of Cairo giants Ahly and Zamalek, who returned to their respective teams following the Chile friendly due to commitments in Africa's inter-club competitions.

"Jamaica are a very good team, and facing them will be very useful in our preparations for the Nations Cup qualifiers," said Gharib, who was the assistant of head coach Hassan Shehata when Egypt won three straight Nations Cup titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The 55-year-old tried out some fringe players against Chile, including Ittihad El-Shorta striker Khaled Qamar who netted Egypt's second goal with a superb lob after 16 minutes.

The physical presence of defender Aly Ghazal, who plays for Nacional in Portugal, was also an asset for an Egypt side that is embarking on a rebuilding process following their failure to reach two consecutive Nation Cups in 2012 and 2013.

"I am satisfied with the players' performance, especially those newcomers like Qhaled kamar, Hazem Emam and Amr Gamal," Gharib said after the game.

"My team was a tough opponent for the Chile players who will be participating in the World Cup within a few days.

"We will try to make the best use of the Jamaica friendly to stop our defensive errors ahead of the African qualifiers. Also we will give a chance for some new faces, as Ahly and Zamalek players will not be available due to their club's continental commitments."

Egypt begin their Nations Cup qualifying campaign away to Senegal in September in Group G that also includes Tunisia. The fourth team in the group is yet to be determined.

Wednesday's match against Jamaica will take place at London’s Matchroom Stadium, home of Leyton Orient.

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