Egypt World Cup squad analysis: Cuper hopeful on Salah, gambles on strikers

Ahram Online , Ahram Online , Monday 4 Jun 2018,
Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Africa - Egypt vs Congo - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - October 8, 2017 Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring a goal (Reuters)

Argentinean coach Hector Cuper announced on Monday Egypt's final 23-man list for their first World Cup appearance in 28 years, and the list came with some surprises.

Egypt's star player Mohamed Salah has been included in the squad despite having not recovered from a shoulder ligament injury suffered in last month's Champions League final.

Egypt's medical staff has announced that the player needs to rest from two to three weeks. He will likely not be fit for the Uruguay clash on 15 June, but Cuper hopes he can use his ace against Russia on 19 and Saudi Arabia on 25 June.

The former Valencia and Inter Milan coach has also taken a big gamble upfront, as he included a single natural-striker in his 23-man squad; Marwan Mohsen.

Braga striker Ahmed 'Kouka' Hassan – who has been a regular choice for Egypt since last year's African Cup of Nations – and Masry striker Ahmed Gomaa were initially included in the provisional 29-man list, but did not make the cut after failing to convince in recent friendly games.

Ahly striker Mohsen, 29, was the Pharaohs' target man during last year's Africa Cup of Nations, but he suffered a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for almost a year.

He started playing regularly for Ahly and Egypt in April and the coach hopes he will not suffer any setbacks.

Ittihad Jeddah's winger Mahmoud 'Kahraba' Abdel-Moneim will be the prominent backup for Mohsen as he has been deployed on several occasions by the coach in striking roles.

Goal keeper Essam El-Hadary, 45, remains as reliable as ever and seems to be an undisputed choice between the sticks since his outstanding performances in the 2017 African Cup of Nations.

Should he feature, El-Hadary will be the oldest person to play in the World Cup, beating the record of 43-year-old Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon in Brazil four years ago.

El-Hadary will have Ahly's keepers Sherif Ekramy and Mohamed El-Shennawi, who made his international debut last March, as backup options .

Cuper has also decided to take a risk in depending on the defence's new faces Mahmoud 'El-Wensh' Hamdi of Zamalek and Ahly's Ayman Ashraf after dropping RC Lens left-back Karim Hafez.

Ashraf and El-Wensh got their first international calls-up in the World Cup's last preparatory camp, while Hafez was a member of Egypt's squad at the last African Cup.

At the central midfield, Cuper chose Wigan Athletic's midfielder Sam Morsy; giving the England-born player the chance to represent Egypt in his first ever international tournament. 


Egypt's probable lineup (4-2-3-1):

Essam El-Hadary - Ahmed Fathi, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Hegazi, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi - Mohamed Elneny, Tarek Hamed - Mohamed Salah (Ramadan Sobhi), Abdallah El-Said, Mahmoud "Trezeguet" Hassan - Marwan Mohsen.

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