Preview: No room for error against Togo as Egypt seek redemption after Salah blow

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 13 Nov 2020

Egypt now has strength in the frontline as Ahmed 'Kouka' Hassan and Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed are at their peak

File Photo: Egypt's Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny look dejected after Tunisia's first goal. (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt will be without their deadliest weapon and talisman Mohamed Salah when they take on Togo in the third round of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday at Cairo international Stadium.

The Liverpool winger has been ruled out of the game after testing positive for the COVID-19 on Friday and will remain in Cairo in self isolation until he is cured.

A huge blow for the Pharaohs who are seeking to revive theor bid for the AFCON finals after their slow start of the qualifiers collecting only two points from two draws against Minnows Kenya and Comoros.

Egypt are set to face Togo in the third round of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday at Cairo International stadium as the two sides bid to improve their positions in the Group G ranking.

Egypt coach Hossam El-Badry has called a full strength squad for the Togo clash with participation of foreign-based players, including Arsenal's midfielder Mohamed Elneny, Aston Villa's winger Mahmoud Trezeguet and Olympiacos' in-form striker Ahmed 'Kouka' Hassan.

Egypt - who are currently third in the Group G ranking with two points - have no other option but to win when they host Togo who's place is in the group's bottom. They need to improve their ranking as only the top two will advance to the African Nations' Cupfinals, which will take place in January 2022 in Cameroon.

Comoros top the group with five points, two ahead of Kenya after the two teams drew 1-1 in the third round on Wednesday.

Egypt played against Togo eight games in both the teams' history, claiming the victory six times, drawing in one and losing in only one game.

El-Badry is expected to make use of the very ambitious Ahly and Zamalek players after the two teams had reached the CAF Champions League final game alongside the superb performances of foreign-based players who also shine in the English Premier League.

Egypt now has strength in the frontline as Ahmed 'Kouka' Hassan and Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed are at their peak.  

Kouka took his tally to four goals in the first six games of the season. He also netted a goal in the Champions League to give Olympiacos a 1-0 victory over Marseille at the group-stage opener last month.

"I speak with Kouka and always encourage him to work hard. He’s a very good striker and we have a shortage in this position. I want all the strikers to work hard in order to play for the national team. As I’ve said earlier, the door is open to any player who can prove himself worthy of wearing the Egypt shirt," said El-Badry.

Zamalek's red-hot striker Mostafa Mohamed helped his team to reach the CAF Champions League final game after shining during the two-legged games of the continental tournament's semifinals.

"Mostafa Mohamed performed well in the previous games with Zamalek and he still has more targets to achieve with the team," the Egypt coach added.

"Mostafa Mohamed is motivated to introduce the same superb performance with the national team and I see more talented young players like the Zalamek player, including Taher Mohamed and Akram Tawfiq," said El-Badry.

In-form, striker Laba Kodjo will boost Togo squad ahead of Egypt after he was released by his club Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates to join the squad for the two games.

The two sides, Egypt and Togo are scheduled to meet again in the fourth round of the Africa Cup of Nations' qualifiers on 17 November.

Togo French coach Claude Le Roy expressed his anger about the narrow time between the matches against Egypt in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

"How could we play two games within three days only? This doesn’t happen even in Europe during the current circumstances. We have to give the players a break, the situation is very tense and I am angry, but we will fight,” Le Roy told a sports TV channel.

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