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Don't change a good thing
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 11 - 10 - 2018

Egypt's Head Coach Javier Aguirre has made only slight changes to the Egyptian squad that will face Swaziland in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Aguirre will depend mainly on the same names that crushed Niger 6-0 last month as he named 15 home-based players. The Mexican would only call up Arab Contractors' in-form striker Ahmed Ali, who made the last of his seven international appearances in June 2011, and Zamalek's central defender Mahmoud Hamdi.
The first leg will be played Friday 12 October in Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo while the second leg will be played the following Tuesday in Swaziland.
The national team will be missing the efforts due to injury of Huddersfield Town winger Ramadan Sobhi, Ahly Jeddah attacking midfielder Abdallah Al-Said and left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi.
Aguirre has also named 12 foreign-based players for the Swaziland games, including Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, Turkish-based winger Mahmoud Trezeguet and Olympiacos striker Ahmed Kouka.
After two games the Pharaohs are in second place in Group J with three points, three behind leaders Tunisia. Niger and Swaziland have one point apiece. Only the top two teams in the group will qualify for next year's Nations Cup finals in Cameroon.
Assistant Coach Hani Ramzi insisted that lowering the average age of the players was a current priority for the staff ahead the 2022 World Cup. “The door is open for all players to join us. The national team isn't exclusive. There are no definite players,” Ramzi told a radio station.
Replying to criticism concerning Aguirre's selections, Ramzi said “our choices always raise a lot of questions regarding calling up a player and omitting another. Omitting a player doesn't mean that the staff isn't monitoring him. All players are under our watch,” he added.
“Walid Suleiman (who will turn 34 in December) is a good and talented player, but our strategy is to reduce the average age of the players,” Ramzi said. The technical staff is preparing for the 2022 World Cup, so the players' age is a decisive factor in our choices.”
The Egyptian team camp for the match started 8 October.
Egypt's team wihle training
Aguirre has complained about the nature of the pitch in Swaziland in addition to the accommodations and the atmosphere around the national team, saying he wants a peaceful setting for the players to concentrate.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) is awaiting a court decision linking Aguirre to match-fixing. EFA Head Hani Abu Reida made it clear to all members of the board that he was ready for any eventualities and that the national team will not be affected whatever the decision is.
Six years ago, Aguirre was implicated in match-fixing accusations in La Liga, though he was never found guilty nor sentenced. Spanish prosecutors reopened the case in February and now say that Aguirre could face two years in prison if convicted in a case involving a total of 41 players and former club officials.
He has denied any wrongdoing but Japan fired him as its coach in 2015 for his ties to the investigation.
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Egypt's full squad
Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Shennawi (Pyramids FC), Mohamed Awad (Ismaili), Mahmoud Gennesh (Zamalek), Mohamed Abou-Gabal (Smouha)
Defenders: Ahmed Al-Mohamadi (Aston Villa, England), Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich, England), Ali Gabr (Pyramids FC), Ali Ghazal (Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada), Amro Tarek (Orlando City, the United States), Ayman Ashraf, Mohamed Hani (Ahly), Mahmoud Hamdi (Zamalek), Mohamed Hamdi (Pyramids FC), Baher Al-Mohamadi (Ismaili)
Midfielders: Mohamed Sadek (Ismaili), Mohamed Al-Nenni (Arsenal, England), Sam Morsy (Wigan Athletic, England), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mohamed Mahmoud (Wadi Degla), Mahmoud Trezeguet (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Amr Warda (PAOK, Greece), Hussein Al-Shahat (Al-Ain, UAE)
Forwards: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Ahmed Kouka (Olympiacos, Greece), Ahmed Ali (Arab Contractors), Salah Mohsen, Marwan Mohsen (Ahly)


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