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Getting ready for kick-off
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 17 - 05 - 2018

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has revealed its final plans before taking part in the last stage of preparations for the World Cup scheduled to start from 14 June to 14 July in Russia.
In a press conference, team manager Ihab Leheta announced the third and final phase of the preparations for the Word Cup which started Sunday 13 May by announcing a 29-player provisional list which was sent to FIFA on the following day. The final 23-man list is to be sent to FIFA on 4 June.
The 29 selected players will take part in a training camp which will start on 22 May and will include playing three friendly matches before traveling to Russia. In case of injuries, there will be six other players as replacements, Leheta said, adding that after the final list is sent on 4 June, 10 days before the World Cup kick-off, teams will still have a chance to make a replacement in case of a serious injury 24 hours before the team's first match in the competition.
Egypt will first take on Kuwait on 25 May with the main squad, except for Mohamed Salah because of his participation with his English team Liverpool in the final of the European Champions League scheduled to take place on 26 May in Kiev. It has been agreed that Salah will join the team later in Italy.
The second game will see Egypt facing Colombia in Milan, Italy, on 1 June. After the match, the Pharaohs will continue training in Italy before leaving on 5 June to Brussels to play their third friendly game against Belgium on 6 June.
The Pharaohs will be back in Cairo on 7 June. The players will have a day off on 8 June, then have an open training session in the stadium on 9 June. “It has been decided that fans will be allowed to enter the stadium and watch the national team and show their support for their beloved team before traveling to Russia. We believe it is their right which they deserve after all the tremendous and loyal support they have shown us all throughout our qualification stages and even before, at the Africa Cup of Nations,” Leheta said.
On 10 June, the Pharaohs will fly directly from Cairo to Grozny in Chechnya, their team-based camp city. “We will stay there for as long as we stay in the competition, and fly from there to the cities where we are expected to play,” Leheta added.
Head coach Hector Cuper revealed that they are all looking forward to the World Cup and that he was satisfied with his team selection and that he has a lot of faith in his players.
“We are all feeling optimistic and will do all our best at the competition. The players are so determined and so are we as a technical staff. We are very ambitious and there is no ceiling for our ambitious and expectations which are unlimited. It is very hard to say but we are aiming high and we want to go as far as we can in this tournament. This is our goal. We have worked very hard to be there and join the greats and we want to prove we deserved to earn that spot.
“Throughout our journey of preparations and building-up process for the World Cup, we have always been seeking perfection and by doing this, we developed more each time.”
Cuper concluded by announcing that he is currently in negotiations regarding renewing his contract with the EFA after the World Cup. The Argentinean's contract expires at the end of the World Cup.
Board member Ahmed Megahed, who attended the press conference, confirmed Cuper's statement, saying they started negotiations even before the expiration of his contract and that the deal will be finalised once both parties agree on terms and conditions.

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