Hossam El-Badry on the interview with on sport TV Channel (Photo: Screen Shot from Youtube)
The Egyptian national football team’s captaincy will remain with the most senior player, newly appointed coach Hossam El-Badry said, dismissing reports to the contrary.
"The decision of allocating the armband is the responsibility of the head coach, and giving it the most senior player has been one of the traditions of Egyptian football for many years, unlike in other places in the world," El-Badry said in an interview with ON Sport TV channel on Sunday.
Traditionally, the most senior player is named as captain of the Pharaohs team, but recent media reports claimed that El-Badry intended to change the tradition by giving the armband to Liverpool star winger Mohamed Salah.
Ahly's veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi, who has 130 international caps, reportedly said he has every right to remain Egypt's skipper.
The issue stirred debate on social media, with some arguing that El-Badry's alleged intentions were disrespectful for someone of Fathi's caliber and experience, while others said that it is within the coach’s rights to decide on such a matter.
"Deciding on the team’s structure, including the choice of skipper, was among the priorities I faced when I took the charge," explained El-Badry, who succeeded in his first test with the team, beating Botswana 1-0 in a friendly on 14 October.
"Ahmed Elmohamady was the skipper in the 2019 African Cup of Nations, but he wasn't available in our first camp or even the following one. He could join us later as the door is open for all players in the future.
"I always prefer to have the skipper on the field. Fathi wasn't available with the national team for almost a year, so I had to think about who will be the skipper.
"I discussed the issue with team director Mohamed Barakat early on, especially what to do if Elmohamady and Fathi are not with us,” he said, adding that he was surprised to hear the rumours suggesting that the system would be changed.
"I don't want to speak about definite names, but we finally settled on giving it the most senior player as per tradition," he said.
The 27-year-old Salah, the top scorer of the current crop with 41 international goals in 67 appearances, is fourth in the line of skippers after Fathi, Ahmed Hegazi, 28 and Abdallah El-Said, 34, with the former already in the twilight of his career.
Some critics have long criticised the current system that favours the senior footballers regardless of whether they boast leadership qualities or not, citing the example of many famed European clubs and national teams that pick skippers according to different criteria.
In the first official tests under El-Badry, the Pharaohs will be hosting Kenya on 14 November in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers before flying to face Comoros four days later.
Egypt is competing in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers alongside the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The former Ahly player and coach El-Badry is the first Egyptian manager in Egypt's hot seat in four years following Argentinean tactician Hector Cuper (2015-2018) and Javier Aguirre (2018-2019).
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