Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny will not be available for Egypt's opening World Cup qualifier against Angola on Wednesday due to COVID-19 restrictions, coach Hossam El-Badry confirmed.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) was hoping it could work out a solution with the UK government to have both available for the opening Group F clash in Cairo, but El-Badry will now have to do without them.
Premier League clubs agreed last week not to release players for international matches in countries that are placed on the UK's red-list because they would have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to England.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino asked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to grant an exemption to the 60 players affected by the decision. Egypt is on the UK's red-list
"We are hoping we could have Salah and Elneny available for the second game against Gabon," El-Badry a news conference on Sunday.
Salah's absence in particular leaves the 61-year-old coach without his most lethal weapon as Egypt kick off their bid to qualify for the World Cup for a second consecutive time.
The 29-year-old is second in Egypt's list of all-time top scorers with 45 goals, 31 goals behind iconic striker Hossam Hassan.
The Pharaohs host Angola on Wednesday before meeting Gabon away from home four days later.
"We are dealing with tough circumstances because of the absences," El-Badry added.
"But I'm confident we will be on top of our group come November and will qualify for the final round."
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