Egypt's World Cup player profiles: Tarek Hamed, a combative man in midfield

Ahram Online, Tuesday 12 Jun 2018,
Tarek Hamed

A solid Makelele-style defensive midfielder, Tarek Hamed has been ever-present in manager Hector Cuper's starting line-up.

With the Argentinean tactician's main approach is to sit deep inside his own half in an attempt to soak up pressure, the Zamalek holding midfielder seemed to have been serving his manager's purpose well.

A tough-tackling midfielder who is strong in the air and capable of dispossessing opponents, Hamed appears to be the man epitomizing Cuper's defensive strategy.

And with midfield partner Mohamed Elneny given a license to push forward and attack, Hamed's defensive capabilities look to be crucial more than ever.

On the contrary to his abilities without the ball, Hamed has often looked poor in possession – at times struggling to control the ball well when receiving it from his center-backs during build-up play.

That point, in particular, has always appeared to be Hamed's biggest weakness, prompting opponents to target him whenever he received possession - causing him problems.

His passing abilities had also been questioned at times, with the 32-year-old lacking the needed creativity to unlock deep defenses.

Commendably, however, he worked to address his weaknesses despite exceeding 30, and this league season has seen him register higher accurate passing figures.

And with manager Cuper always looking to counter-attack by playing the ball forward to Liverpool star Mohamed Salah into space, Hamed might prove more reliable at the World Cup in this respect.

A diagonal long pass from Hamed into the path of Salah that ended up with Abdallah El-Said scoring the winner in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win in Congo will always remain fresh in the memories.

Cuper will surely be relying on similar passes to Salah at the quadrennial tournament, and with Hamed showing improvement with the ball, he might be one of the men assigned with the task.

The ex-Smouha midfielder has been one of the national team's stars in the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, where they finished runners-up, and is widely expected to play a crucial role if Egypt were to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup. 

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