Egypt's Argentinean manager Hector Cuper has hailed the Pharaohs duo Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny and insisted on the importance of the upcoming Burkina Faso friendly amid preparations for the team’s Nigeria clash.
The Egyptian team will host Burkina Faso on 27 February in Alexandria during preparations for the anticipated match against Nigeria in the 2017 Cup of Nations qualifiers in late March.
On Saturday, Cuper called-up 24 Egypt-based players for the Pharaohs training camp that will kick-off on Tuesday.
"The Burkina Faso match will be the best preparation for the Nigeria clash despite the absence of foreign based players. It will be a good opportunity to examine the local players- the best in the league at the time being," Cuper said in a press conference ahead of the camp launch on Tuesday.
"The national team's door is still open for any new players ahead of the Nigeria encounter. The selected players must do their best to prove their worth and cement a place in the starting line-up," he added.
Having missed national duty for almost 15 months as technical staff mainly depended on Ahly's goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, the 43-year-old Essam El-Hadry earned his first ever call up in Cuper’s line-up, after the recent outstanding performances by Egyptian Premiere league club Wadi Degla.
"I am not worried about calling up El-Hadary, as his age is not a problem for me at all. He is a very good keeper and he proved that in recent league games," Cuper said about the former Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily star.
El-Hadary played a key role in guiding Egypt to three successive African Cup of Nations titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Humility of Salah and Elneny
Since his appointment in March 2015, the former Inter Milan coach, Cuper, mainly depended on the successful duo Mohamed Salah who plays as winger for AS Roma and Arsenal's midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
"The fact that Salah and Elneny are playing for big European clubs is beneficial for the national team," Cuper explained.
"They are very humble and every time they adapt quickly with their teammates for the sake of the team," he added.
Under the guidance of Cuper, Egypt played two friendly matches late in January- losing 1-0 to Jordan before beating Libya 2-0.
Egypt are bidding to reach the Nations Cup for the first time since winning the last of their record seven titles in 2010.
They are on top of Group G of the Nations Cup qualifiers with a maximum six points after wins over Tanzania and Chad.
Nigeria is second with four points.
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