El-Shennawi blow leaves Egypt with little options between the sticks at World Cup

Karim Farouk , Sunday 15 Apr 2018

File photo of Ahmed El-Shennawi (C) reacts as he walks off the pitch due to an injury during an African Cup of Nations game against Mali in January 2017 (AFP)

The injury of Zamalek keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi comes as a huge blow for Egypt coach Hector Cuper who relies on him as a key figure for the Pharaohs.

The 26-year old sustained a knee injury last week and will likely miss next summer's World Cup.

El-Shennawi, the 2011 African Youth Championship keeper of the tournament, is seen as the successor of Egypt's iconic keeper Essam El-Hadary but failed to live up to expectations due to an injury-plagued career.

He was Cuper's first choice during the 2017 African Nations Cup before sustaining an injury in the opening game that ruled him out for the rest of the tournament.

The injury of El-Shennawi – who has been in competition with veteran goalie El-Hadary for a place in Egypt's starting lineup – leaves Cuper with the 45-year as the only reliable and experienced choice between the sticks.

Ahly's experienced keeper Sherif Ekrami was initially relegated to the bench for club teammate Mohamed El-Shennawi and eventually dropped from Egypt squad.

Argentinean tactician Cuper has recently called up Mohamed El-Shennawi and Ismaily's Mohamed Awad, giving them their first taste of international football last month against Portugal and Greece in friendly games respectively.

While both are excelling on the domestic front, they clearly lack international experience and would only serve as backup options for El-Hadary who is set to become the oldest player to feature in a World Cup.

"El-Shennawi is a great talent and God knows how sad I am. I don't want to talk about his replacement right now, we still have time to evaluate the situation and I am not worried at all because we have good potential in goalkeeping," Egypt's goalkeeping coach Ahmed Nagui told local website Filgoal.

Egypt will submit their 35-man provisional squad to FIFA by 14 May.

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