Preview: Demoralized Egypt look for fresh start under Galal

Ahram Online , Saturday 4 Jun 2022

Egypt will be looking to quickly pick themselves up and look forward to next year's African Cup of Nations following a disappointing first half of the year as they start a new reign under coach Ehab Galal.

Ehab Galal
Egypt coach Ehab Galal leads a training session ahead of Sunday s game against Guinea in their opening African Cup of Nations qualifier (Photo: the Egyptian Football Association s official Facebook page)

The Pharaohs are heartbroken after suffering two agonizing losses in February and March, both against Senegal.

They looked close to winning a record-extending eighth Nations Cup crown in February, only to lose to Senegal on penalties following a 0-0 draw.

There was a chance for redemption a month later but they again fell in a shootout against Senegal following a 1-1 aggregate draw in a World Cup qualifying playoff, thus missing out on a place in the Qatar finals.

The double loss led to the departure of veteran Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz and the arrival of Egyptian boss Galal, whose tenure starts with a home game against Guinea in Egypt's opening Nations Cup qualifier on Sunday.

Queiroz came under fire for what many believed were his overly-cautious tactics, which saw Egypt struggle for openings upfront even though they were largely solid at the back.

Galal, as is evident in his stints with several Egyptian Premier League clubs including Maqassa and Pyramids FC, favours a more adventurous, possession-based style.

He acknowledged that it will not be easy to quickly adopt his philosophy, given the limited time he has had since taking over in April, but he is expected to alter Queiroz's conservative style.

"We came here to continue the job that what our predecessors have done. We will build on their work," Galal told a news conference.

Egypt's last competitive game against Guinea was a World Cup qualifier in 2013, which the Pharaohs won 4-2 at home.

Their most recent meeting saw Egypt defeat Guinea 3-1 in a friendly game in 2019.

Egypt will have to do without first-choice goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi and regular left-back Ahmed Fattouh after both had contracted COVID-19. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny is also doubtful due to injury.

Egypt next face Ethiopia on Thursday. Group D also includes Malawi, with the top two to automatically qualify for next year's African Cup of Nations finals in Cote d'Ivoire.

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