Preview: Gharib starts Egypt reign with 'high-profile' Bosnia friendly

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 4 Mar 2014

Egypt, who will not be present at this year's World Cup finals, face Bosnia on Wednesday in their first match under new coach Shawky Gharib

Shawky Gharib
Egypt's national soccer team coach Shawky Gharib (Photo: AP)

Shawky Gharib starts his reign as Egypt's coach with a friendly game against Bosnia on Wednesday, which he described as one of a series of high-profile matches to rebuild an underachieving side.

The 55-year-old, an assistant to Hassan Shehata during Egypt's unprecedented hat-trick of African Nations Cup triumphs in the past decade, took over at the Pharaohs following the departure of Bob Bradley.

The American tactician left Egypt following their failure to reach this year's World Cup finals in Brazil, burdening Gharib with the task of overhauling a team shorn of several of its stars, including talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika who announced his retirement last year.

Veteran defender Wael Gomaa also revealed he would hang up his boots at the end of the season, giving Gharib a selection dilemma as he struggles to pinpoint fresh faces in the poor-quality Egyptian Premier League.

Egypt meet Bosnia in Austria, their first match since they beat Ghana 2-1 in the second leg of a World Cup qualifying playoff last November which was a mere consolation after they suffered a humiliating 6-1 first-leg defeat in Kumasi.

"We haven’t faced such a high-profile team for long. Our match against Bosnia will be very useful. They are ranked 17th in the world and they boast some excellent players," Gharib said.

"We could have played against some modest teams and won 9-0, but we want to avoid a repeat of what happened in Ghana when we were not fully prepared."

Egypt will also face Chile in May as they prepare for the qualifiers of the 2015 African Nations Cup, a tournament they won three times on the trot in 2006, 2008 and 2010 before astonishingly failing to reach the following two editions.

"Playing with strong sides from Europe and South America is very useful for many reasons as the new coach is preparing a new generation for the national team," said Egypt winger Ahmed Elmohamady.

"During Bradley's era, we were playing poor friendlies which were not useful for us at the end when we faced a strong side like Ghana.

"Although Shawky has just taken over the team, but he had the courage to arrange strong friendlies like Bosnia and Chile," he added.

In a surprise move, Gharib has recalled 41-year-old keeper Essam El-Hadary, who has not played for Egypt since falling out with Bradley in February 2013 after rejecting a bench role during a friendly against Chile.

Uncapped forward Amr Gamal, who produced some superb displays with Ahly in the Egyptian league, was also named in the 22-man squad.

New faces also include Ismaily midfielder Ibrahim Hassan and Arab Contractors promising forward Mohamed Farouk.

Zamalek players were left out as the Cairo giants prepare for an African Champions League round of 32 game away to Angola's Kabuscorp.

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