New Zealand coach says facing Egypt is a challenge, sad for Salah’s absence

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

New Zealand Darren Bazeley says facing Egypt in a friendly game on Friday is a challenge for his team, expressing his sadness for the absence of the Pharaohs skipper and Liverpool star winger Mohamed Salah.

New Zealand Darren Bazeley
New Zealand Darren Bazeley


The seven-time African Champions, Egypt, are due to host the New Zealand team at Egypt Stadium in the opening match of the international friendly tournament “Egypt Capital Cup,” scheduled to take place on 22-26 March in the New Administrative Capital.

“The tournament is a great chance for my players as we will face strong teams like Egypt, Tunisia, and Croatia,” Bazeley told ON Time Sports TV channel early on Wednesday.

“Egypt game is a challenge for us and we are looking forward to play against a lot of supporters in a fantastic stadium,” the coach added.

Friday’s game will be the first official match at Egypt Stadium which was officially opened in January and can accommodate nearly 94,000 supporters.

Earlier today, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced that 30,000 supporters will be allowed to attend the game from the stands.

The game was initially planned to be played in UAE before moving the whole tournament to Egypt and according to Bazeley, there is no difference between playing in both countries.

“I think that playing this game will provide our youth players experience and a good experiment,” the coach explained.

Egypt captain Mohamed Salah won’t be available for the whole tournament as both the player and his club requested his exclusion to prioritize his recovery from a recent injury.

“Liverpool is my favourite team and I am sorry that Salah won’t play against us,” the New Zealand coach concluded.

The friendly tournament will feature Egypt, New Zealand, Croatia, and Tunisia.

The opening games will be on Friday as Egypt will face New Zealand, while Tunisia will take on Croatia.

The losers of Friday’s matches will compete in a third-place match on 25 March, and the winners will battle for the trophy on 26 March.

This friendly tournament is important as it prepares for Egypt's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau.

The qualifiers will take place in June as part of the third and fourth rounds of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

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