Preview: Egypt face stern test in Guinea on Sunday in World Cup qualifiers

Hatem Maher, Saturday 9 Jun 2012

Egypt meet Group G rivals Guinea away from home in a tough World Cup qualifier on Sunday

Egypt

Egypt coach Bob Bradley is confident his side would be able to maintain their fine start to their World Cup qualifying campaign when they meet Guinea in a tough game on Sunday in Conakry.

Both sides are vying to become the sole Group G leaders after kicking off their campaign with convincing wins, with Egypt beating Mozambique 2-0 in Alexandria and Guinea claiming a 1-0 away victory over Zimbabwe.

A win for Egypt might be crucial in putting them in the driving seat as they seek to end a long World Cup drought stretching back to 1990 when they made their last appearance in Italy.

They must finish on top of the group to advance to the decisive and final round, where they will play a two-legged tie to obtain one of the five African tickets for the 2014 edition in Brazil.

"It will be a difficult game. Guinea are a very good team, who boast some pacey players, especially on the flanks," said Bradley, whose first competitive match in charge of Egypt saw them beat Mozambique with two second-half goals from Mahmoud Fathallah and Mohamed Zidan.

"Attacking duo Ibrahima Traore and Sadio Diallo pose constant threats to opponents, we will keep a close eye on them during the game.

"I trust the abilities of my players and I'm sure they can get a good result. I believe in them," added the former United States tactician, who took over following the departure of highly-successful boss Hassan Shehata.

Bradley's turn

Shehata led Egypt to an unprecedented feat of three consecutive African Nations Cup triumphs but he still failed to lay to rest their repeated World Cup disappointments, despite coming so close in 2009 when the Pharaohs suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat by Algeria in a playoff in Sudan.

It is now the turn of Bradley to realise a long-held dream.

However, the American boss may need the devil's own luck to lead the Pharaohs to a place at the 2014 Brazil finals, having had to deal with a series of problems since taking charge of the team last year.

February's Port Said tragedy in particular, which forced an indefinite suspension of domestic football activities, left Bradley struggling to prepare Egypt for World Cup commitments which hardly grabbed the attention of the Egyptian people, who are busy debating who should become the country's first post-Hosni Mubarak president.

With no fan support at home, given the crowd ban enforced by authorities due to security concerns, and shortage of fully-fit players, the World Cup dream seems far-fetched.

"The circumstances we are facing are too hard, but I'm not the person who can give up," Bradley added.

"This is my job, and I should work in accordance with the situation we are facing. I'm responsible for the team and my objective is clear: qualifying for the World Cup."

Lack of cutting edge

Egypt appeared sluggish against Mozambique in the first half as they found it difficult to create genuine goal-scoring opportunities against their modest opponents.

But even when they did, they were still wasteful in front of goal - a problem Bradley should address before facing a much more difficult encounter against Guinea.

''We committed several mistakes during the Mozambique game. We will try to avoid them against Guinea,'' Bradley commented.

 ''We had several goal-scoring chances against Mozambique, but we could score only two goals."

Bradley stuck to the same squad which played against Mozambique, with the exception of striker Emad Meteb, who pulled out of the squad due to a middle ear infection.

Reports suggested the Ahly man was involved in a dispute with Bradley after venting his frustration at sitting on the bench against Mozambique. The bald-headed coach, who usually plays with a lone striker, preferred to field Mohamed Zidan in the second half.

Previous meetings:

6 Feb 1970: Egypt 4:1 Guinea (African Nations Cup)
8 Jan 1973: Egypt 1:4 Guinea (All Africa Games)
29 Feb 1976 / Egypt 1:1 Guinea (African Nations Cup)
11 Mar 1976: Egypt 2:4 Guinea (African Nations Cup)
12 Aug 2009: Egypt 3:3 Guinea (Friendly game)

Head to head:

Played: 5 games
Egypt won 1 game
Guinea won 2 games
Drew 2 games

Egypt probable lineup:

Essam El-Hadary - Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Hegazy, Mahmoud Fathallah, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi - Hosni Abd-Rabou, Mohamed El-Nenny, Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Abou-Treika, Ahmed Temsah - Mohamed Nagy "Gedo".

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