File Photo: A snap shot of Angola coach Pedro Goncalves. Photo courtesy of Radio 5/RNA
Angolan coach Pedro Goncalves said that Egypt remains a “formidable” opponent even amid the absence of key duo Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny.
“Salah is currently among the best five players in the world and the absence of Elneny is also not good for Egypt. Both players are excellent,” Goncalves told Egyptian TV channel Al-Nahar late on Sunday.
“Egypt remains a very strong team despite the duo’s absence. It is the most prestigious team in Africa,” he added.
The Pharaohs will be hosting Angola in Cairo on Wednesday in the first round of the African World Cup qualifiers before flying out to face Gabon on 5 September in the second round.
On Sunday, Egyptian coach Hossam El-Badry confirmed that Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny will not be available for the Angola game due to Egypt being on the UK’s COVID-19 red list.
Premier League clubs agreed last week to not release players for international matches in countries that are placed on the UK’s red list because they would have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to England.
The Egyptian Football Association was hoping it could work out a solution with the UK government to have both players present for the opening Group F clash in Cairo, but El-Badry will now have to do without them.
Angola is facing the same problem regarding calling its foreign-based players, according to coach Goncalves, who confessed that his team is in a difficult situation.
“We are missing 12 players due to restrictions on the coronavirus and other bureaucratic reasons. It is a difficult situation,” the Gabon coach explained.
“Despite the fact that it will be a complicated mission, we intend to prove ourselves and be brave,” he concluded.
Angola, who are seeking their second ever World Cup appearance after being eliminated from the first round in the 2006 edition, were drawn in Group F of the World Cup qualifiers alongside Libya, Egypt, and Gabon.
Angola will be facing Libya on 7 September in the second round of the qualifiers.
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