Preview: Salah-less Egypt looking for flair against Ethiopia

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Jun 2022

Egypt will be naturally looking to assert their dominance in the early stages of their African Nations Cup qualifying campaign when they meet Ethiopia in Malawi on Thursday, but they will also be eager to produce some flair after a lackluster showing in their opening game.

Egypt s players celebrate after scoring their goal during a soccer match against Guinea in Group D 2023 Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at Cairo International stadium in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 5, 2022. Egypt won 1-0 (AP)

The Pharaohs marked the debut of coach Ehab Galal with an uninspiring display but they still got the job done in a laboured 1-0 home win over Guinea in their opening Group D clash on Sunday.

They struggled for openings until substitute Mostafa Mohamed netted a fortuitous winner with three minutes remaining after Egypt had survived a couple of scares at the other end.

Galal is aware his predecessor Carlos Queiroz was heavily criticised for his cautious tactics, even though the veteran Portuguese coach led Egypt to the Nations Cup final and a two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff, with the team losing to Senegal on penalties on both occasions.

A coach known for his preference of a pretty brand of attacking football, Galal acknowledged it would be hard to make an instant impact and alter Egypt's strategy, saying things must be carried out gradually.

But the fans will grow impatient should Egypt produce another below-par display against Ethiopia, whose opening game saw them lose 2-1 to Malawi.

"We will improve in the future. I want to develop our game, especially offensively, but we will need more time to achieve our goal," Galal said following the win over Guinea.

Egypt will miss a host of key players against Ethiopia, including Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah, who Galal said had played through the pain barrier against Guinea due to a minor injury.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny, Aston Villa winger Mahmoud Trezeguet and Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi are all still unavailable.

Galal will also have to do without central defensive pair Mohamed Abdel-Moneim and Yasser Ibrahim, who are both out due to injury and illness respectively.

"We are facing bad luck because of the injuries," the former Pyramids FC coach said.

"The game against Ethiopia will be a strong one, not an easy one. We will do our best to return with the three points."

Egypt have not met Ethiopia for 20 years. Their last meeting saw the Pharaohs win 4-1 in a friendly game in 2002.

The winners and runners-up of the 12 qualifying groups will reach next year's Nations Cup finals in Cote d'Ivoire.

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