Preview: Already-qualified Egypt looking for missing flair against Comoros

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Mar 2021

Egypt and Comoros, who had both already qualified for the Nations Cup, have nine points each, with Kenya lying third on four points

Egypt's players celebrate after scoring during Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification Group G football match between Kenya and Egypt at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, on March 25, 2021. AFP

Having already sealed passage to next year's African Cup of Nations, all what Egypt will be looking for against Comoros in Monday's final qualifier is a flair that has been badly missed.

Coach Hossam El-Badry has blamed a number of factors for another uninspiring display as Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw away to Kenya last week, including COVID-19 effects.

The Pharaohs grabbed an early lead against Kenya, only to concede a second-half goal as their unfancied opponents held them to another stalemate in Group G following an opening 1-1 draw in 2019.

Egypt will make a record-extending 25th appearance in next year's Cameroon finals but their less-than-impressive qualifying campaign will cast doubts over their ability to win the biennial tournament for the first time since 2010.

They only beat Togo home and away in their qualifying campaign, settling for two draws against Kenya and one against Comoros.

Egypt lacked verve and harmony as their attack looked toothless in Thursday's game against Kenya in Nairobi, even though their starting line-up included the likes of Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah, Galatasaray striker Mostafa Mohamed and Aston Villa winger Mahmoud Trezeguet.

El-Badry admitted that Egypt were still a work in progress, having inherited a team reeling from a shocking last-16 elimination from the Nations Cup on home soil in 2019.

"The game against Comoros is very important despite our qualification as we aim to produce a performance that is up to the standards and the big name of our country," the 61-year-old told a news conference.

"We still have many challenges ahead and we need to have high spirits."

El-Badry is likely to include Mohamed Elneny in his starting line-up after he his absence against Kenya stirred controversy, with reports suggesting that he had fallen out with the former Ahly boss.

Elneny was kept on the bench as El-Badry used four central midfielders in both halves. The Arsenal midfielder's agent and El-Badry vehemently denied any rifts.

"There is no problem with Mohamed Elneny and he is likely to start the game against Comoros," the coach commented, having earlier suggested that Elneny was not physically fit to feature against Kenya.

Egypt and Comoros, who had both already qualified for the Nations Cup, have nine points each, with Kenya lying third on four points.

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