Veteran 43-year-old keeper Hadary could start in Egypt v Tanzania

Hatem Maher , Thursday 26 May 2016

Essam El-Hadary
Egypt's veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (Wadi Degla's official Facebook page)

Essam El-Hadary, widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in Egypt's history, can make a rare start at the age of 43 when the Pharaohs meet Tanzania in their final African Cup of Nations qualifier on 4 June, coach Hector Cuper said on Thursday.

A draw or even a defeat by less than a three-goal margin will secure Egypt's 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. 

Tanzania's only hope of snatching the Group G qualifying ticket lies in defeating Egypt, who are six points clear on top, more than 3-0 and then beating Nigeria, who are already out of the running, in their final match.

"El-Hadary may take part against Tanzania because of the injury of [Ahly keeper] Sherif Ekramy. [Zamalek guardian] Ahmed El-Shennawi is also not fully fit," Argentinean boss Cuper told a news conference.

El-Hadary, who plays for Egypt's Wadi Degla in what seems the last chapter in a remarkable career that also saw him represent Cairo giants Ahly and Zamalek, made the last of his 141 international appearances in a friendly game against Tunisia in November 2014.

He has produced some impressive displays for Degla so far this season as they vie for a third-place finish in the Egyptian Premier League. El-Hadari has been Egypt's third-choice keeper lately behind El-Shennawi and Ekramy.

Hossam Ghaly saga

Cuper also alluded to the recent saga surrounding Ahly skipper Hossam Ghaly, who was left out of Egypt's squad after reportedly falling out with the team's assistant coach Osama Nabih.

Local reports said anchorman Ghaly had incurred the wrath of Cuper after he insulted some of his teammates in the training sessions that preceded the crucial 1-0 home victory over Nigeria in March.

Ghaly's omission sparked a social media fury, with Ahly's supporters accusing Cuper and Nabil of unfairly treating the Red Devils' players.

"There might be a sort of misunderstanding. For example, in Spain mistreating someone means physical harm, and we never deal with anyone this way. No bad intentions against any player and I don't see any colours [of teams] when I select the squad," Cuper added.

The former Valencia and Inter Milan coach insisted Egypt will be eyeing a win in Dar es Salaam to improve their FIFA ranking ahead of the draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

"Some displays might not be very convincing, but results are very important. We are out for a win against Tanzania."

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