Egypt's Hadary retains leadership spirit despite substitute role: Team director

Eslam Omar , Sunday 17 Jun 2018,
Essam El Hadary
Egypt's goalkeeper Essam El Hadary in a training session (Photo: AFP)

Egypt captain Essam El-Hadary is in high spirits, demonstrating his leadership skills and expertly guiding the team in Russia despite missing the Pharaohs' first World Cup match in 28 years, according to team director Ihab Leheita.

"Essam El-Hadary is the team's captain and he remains the same in all terms. He is raising the players' morale and enthusiasm. He hasn't changed at all after being sidelined in favor of his teammate Mohamed El Shennawi," Leheta told reporters during Sunday's morning training session in Grozny.

Ahly's El-Shennawi, a 29-year-old keeper with little international experience, earned plaudits for a stunning display in Egypt's 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in their Group A opener on Friday.

He pulled off a string of superb saves to thwart the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, earning the man of the match award although Egypt eventually succumbed to a 90th-minute winner from defender Jose Gimenez.

Hadary featured in all of Egypt's games at the 2017 African Cup of Nations and was also the preferred first-choice keeper of coach Hector Cuper during the World Cup qualifying run

The 45-year-old keeper was eager to play against Uruguay to make history by becoming the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup as he seeks to beat the record of former Colombia keeper Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 when he took part in the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

He said he would be "the happiest player on earth" if he played but Cuper opted to field El-Shennawi, who grasped his chance with both hands on his competitive debut.

"Of course Hadary is sad. Anyone must be sad in his situation but he is the same captain with the same spirit," Leheta concluded.

(For more sports news and updates and a special World Cup 2018 coverage, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports )


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