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Preview: Salah-less Egypt kick off World Cup qualifiers against Angola
Published in Ahram Online on 31 - 08 - 2021

Egypt will have to look for alternative options on the right wing when they host Angola in their opening Group F clash of the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday, with talisman Mohamed Salah out due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Liverpool star, the hero of Egypt's qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, sits out because he will have to quarantine for 10 days upon his return to England should he feature in the Angola game, given that Egypt is on the UK's red-list.
While Salah's goal-scoring instinct and marauding runs behind the defence will surely be missed, coach Hossam El-Badry shouldn't be too worried.
The 61-year-old has some options that can fill in for Salah, including Zamalek's duo Ahmed Zizo and Mostafa Fathi.
Zizo played an instrumental role in guiding Zamalek to their first Egyptian Premier League crown in six years while Fathi scored 17 league goals during a loan spell at Alexandria-based club Smouha to finish just four goals behind the competition's leading scorer.
While Zizo is more of a classic winger, Fathi seems a straightforward replacement for Salah, given his goal-scoring abilities and tendency to run at defences.
Ahly's Magdi Afsha is likely to carry out playmaking duties while El-Badry will also have to find a replacement for left winger Mahmoud Trezeguet, who is nursing a long-term injury.
Ahly striker Mohamed Sherif, the league's top scorer with 21 goals, is expected to get the nod upfront ahead of Galatasaray's out-of-favour frontman Mostafa Mohamed.
Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny is also ruled out of the game due to coronavirus restrictions, with either Ahly's Hamdi Fathi or Amr El-Sulaya likely to replace him.
"We are dealing with tough circumstances because of the absences," El-Badry told a news conference.
"But I'm confident we will be on top of our group come November and will qualify for the final round."
Angola coach Pedro Goncalves also said his side would be missing 12 players due to coronavirus restrictions.
El-Badry will be eager to fulfill his second target after taking over in the summer of 2019, having qualified Egypt for next year's African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The team meet Gabon away from home in their second Group F game on Sunday before facing Libya in a double-header in October. Only the group winners will advance to a final two-legged playoff for a place in next year's World Cup in Qatar.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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