100 days since Egypt's last game: World Cup preparation squad 'still undecided'

Eslam Omar , Tuesday 20 Feb 2018

Egypt technical staff say they are carefully monitoring players before settling on the preparation squad, with only 16 weeks left before Egypt's first World Cup since 1990

Egypt's Mohamed Salah vies for the ball against Congo's Tobias Badila (AFP)

The Egyptian national team, under the guidance of Argentinean coach Hector Cuper, have set a date of 10 March to announce their squad for a preparation camp they will hold in Switzerland a week later, less than three months before the anticipated 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"We will call up our foreign-based players on 4 March, two weeks before the camp, according to FIFA regulations, and the local-based squad is set to be announced on 10 March," the Pharaohs administrative manager Ihab Leheta told a radio station Tuesday morning.

The team have been out of action since 12 November when they ended the World Cup qualifiers with a redundant 1-1 draw against Ghana, over a month after the unforgettable 2-1 home win against Congo that sent them to the most prestigious football tournament, ending a 28-year absence.

"We are in contact with 40 or 50 players from the team's squad. Cuper always approaches players he admires especially to check on their passport readiness and military status, but the official squad will be announced on 10 March," Leheta explained.

In addition to the "40 or 50 players", the goalkeepers' coach Ahmed Nagi said he is monitoring several goalies from the Egyptian league before deciding on his four final choices for the upcoming camps.

Egypt, who dropped 13 places in the FIFA rankings for February to become the World's 43rd team due to a lack of games, are playing two friendly matches during the Switzerland camp: against Portugal on 23 March, four days before playing Greece.

During the last three months, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) have approached many counterparts to face in pre-operational games, including Mexico, Poland and Belarus, but only the Portugal and Greece games were confirmed.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Egypt would play Belgium and Kuwait in another camp in May, in which the team is supposed to play three games.

"We could face a team from South America too to get familiar with their style because we are playing Uruguay in the opener," Leheta revealed.

The World Cup draw, announced on 1 December, put Egypt in group A with the hosts Russia and fellow Arab team Saudi Arabia, with the kick-off against powerful Uruguay.

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