Egypt U23 coach Shawky Gharib has unveiled on Monday a list of eight over-age players that he will chose among for his final three candidates to join the squad in next month’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
All teams are allowed to add three senior players to their young squads for this quadrennial event. This year, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the squads have been increased from 18 to 22 players.
Gharib’s shortlist includes two keepers Mohamed El Shennawi (Ahly), Mohamed Abou-Gabal (Zamalek); three defenders Ahmed Hegazi (Ittihad Jeddah), Mohamed “El Wensh” Hamdi (Zamalek) and Ayman Ashraf (Ahly); two midfielders Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek) and Liverpool’s forward Mohamed Salah.
“I can’t say who will be with us now because there are still many agreements to be done with the clubs, but we still have some time before announcing our final squad on 30 June," Gharib told Al Mehwar TV on Monday.
Gharib is facing mounting challenges in the build-up to the Games as Ahly, which includes at least six players in the team, is in contention for the African League title and he would want to keep his players if he reaches the final on 17 July, just a week before the start of the football tournament.
He is still waiting to a hear word from Liverpool regarding Mohamed Salah’s participation, which may hinder his pre-season, which is also the case for the team’s star striker Mostafa Mohamed who may be playing the Champions League qualifiers with Galatasaray.
“We haven’t got an answer from Liverpool yet. Salah’s participation would be beneficial not just for us but for the entire tournament.”
“We are hoping to hear soon from them but we will have to wait for the last minute to settle several things with several clubs,” Gharib concluded.
The young Pharaohs were drawn in a tough group at the Olympic Games, facing off against heavyweights Spain, Argentina, and Australia.
The 2012 quarterfinalists will open their campaign against Spain on 22 July, before facing Argentina three days later, and Australia on 28 July.
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