All eyes in Egypt will turn to Borg El Arab Stadium on Thursday where Egypt take on Kenya in the beginning of their campaign to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 to be held in Cameroon.
Egypt’s Coach Hossam El-Badry aims to make an impression in the national team’s first official game under his leadership. Of Course, El-Badri eyes victory over Kenya to secure their qualification group’s top place, especially as Egypt will fly abroad later on 18 November to face Comoros in their second match in the qualifiers.
However, El-Badry fears that the Egyptian fans will not be able to attend the game because the Egyptian Olympic team will meet Cameroon simultaneously in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations currently held in Egypt.
El-Badry held intensive meetings with the coaching staff to settle on the best formation and squad that can achieve the victory and present a satisfying performance in the kick-off of the men’s AFCON qualifiers. He was keen to motivate his players and encourage them to do their best in this match, especially as the Pharaohs presented a poor performance in their previous two friendly matches against Botswana and Liberia.
El-Badry has a strong squad of high-quality players, notably Liverpool’s star Mohamed Salah. Although Salah was ruled out of the game for injury, but he insisted to join the team for fear of being accused of unwillingness to play for Egypt on the back of his dispute with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), after the Association’s ex-board failed to vote for Salah in FIFA’s Best awards.
The Liverpool star, who finished fourth in the Men’s Best Player award, had raised alarms of a possible withdrawal from Egypt’s national team after removing all references on his social media accounts.
Meanwhile, El-Badry has not yet decided on the formation of the team, especially as he was not satisfied with the performance of the forward trio in the last two friendlies against Botswana and Liberia, according to an official source within the national team. The trio includes Ahmed Gomaa, Hossam Hassan, and Marwan Hamdi.
According to sources, Al Ahly’s star Mohamed Magdy Afsha is close to lead the attacking midfield line of the team against Kenya instead of Abdullah El-Saeed, who was excluded from the squad following El-Badry’s decision not to include any player from Pyramids FC after the club refused to send his players Ragab Bakkar, Mohamed Hamdy, Ahmed Ayman Mansour, Omar Gaber, Mohamed Farouk, Abdullah El-Saeed, and Islam Issa for the national duty.
Goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy will maintain his place in the Egyptian team against Kenya after his excellent performance in the training sessions.
Closed meeting between El-Badry and Salah
Meanwhile, El-Badry held a closed meeting with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the presence of Mohamed Barakat, manager of the national team, on Wednesday during the Pharaohs’ training camp in preparation for Kenya.
El-Badry was keen to check on the player’s situation and readiness for first appearance under the new coaching staff. Barakat discussed the marketing rights of the player to avoid conflict with his sponsoring company for fear of repeating the problems that have occurred before, in a way that guarantees the rights of both the player and the national team.
Egypt vs Kenya
Played: 22 games
Egypt win: 18
Kenya win: 1
Egypt scored: 48 goals
Kenya scored: 14 goals