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Egypt call up just six foreign-based players for Botswana qualifiers

Half of the foreign-based players who were selected for Egypt's opening two Nations Cup qualifiers are left out of the squad that will face Botswana twice next month

Ahram Online, Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
egypt tunsia
Fakhreddine Ben Youssef of Tunisia (R) heads the ball near Egypt's Hossam Ghali (L) and Ahmed Fathy (4) during their African Nations Cup qualifying soccer match in Cairo September 10, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Half of the foreign-based players who were selected for Egypt's opening two Nations Cup qualifiers are excluded as coach Shawky Gharib seeks to make up for a woeful start when the team meet Botswana twice in the space of five days next month.

Only six players who ply their trade abroad were selected as Egypt face Botswana away from home on 10 October before hosting them in Cairo five days later in Group G.

Portugal-based trio Aly Ghazal, Shikabala and Ahmed Hassan 'Koka' were all left out, as was Fiorentina's out-of-favour centre back Ahmed Hegazy and Grasshopper midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba.

Ghazal came in for fierce criticism after putting in a couple of disappointing displays as Egypt lost 2-0 away to Senegal before slumping to a 1-0 reverse at home to Tunisia which heavily dented their hopes of reaching next year's Nations Cup finals in Morocco.

Shikabala, who plays for Sporting, and towering defender Hegazy were excluded due to lack of playing time with the Lisbon-based club and Italy's Fiorentina respectively.

Striker Koka failed to impress in two substitute appearances against Senegal and Tunisia while central midfielder Kahraba was left out despite not being given a chance to play in the two matches.

"Our decision is based on a broad assessment of the foreign-based players and whether they are playing regularly with their respective teams," Gharib, whose job is under scrutiny, told Ahram Sport.

"We are not pressured by anyone to make certain decisions. We are keen on selecting the best players and we anyone who proves his worth will find a place in the national team in the coming period."

Qatar-based defender Ahmed Fathi, Hull City winger Ahmed Elmohamady, Chelsea forward Mohamed Salah, Basel duo Mohamed Elneny and Ahmed Hamoudi and Nacional Madeira midfielder Saleh Gomaa have all retained their place in Egypt's squad.

The Pharaohs, who won three Nations Cup on the trot before stunningly failing to reach two successive editions in 2012 and 2013, lie at the bottom of the group. Senegal and Tunisia are joint top with six points each.

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

 
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