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Final call
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 13 - 06 - 2019

There are no surprises regarding the players picked for next week's Africa Cup of Nations, or AFCON. Egypt's Mexican football coach Javier Aguirre and his staff played it safe, unlike what his Argentine predecessor Hector Cuper did at last year's World Cup in Russia.
The three goalkeepers picked are Ahmed Al-Shinnawi, Mohamed Al-Shinnawi and Mahmoud Genesh. The eight defenders are Baher Mohamadi, Ahmed Al-Mohamadi, Ahmed Hegazi, Mahmoud Alaa, Mahmoud Hamdi, Ayman Ashraf, Ahmed Ayman Mansour and Omar Gaber. As for midfielders, Aguirre chose Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Al-Nenni, Amr Warda, Ali Ghazal, Nabil Dunga, Trezeguet, Abdullah Al-Said and Walid Suleiman. Finally, the four strikers hoping to lead the line will be Mohamed Salah, Marwan Mohsen, Ahmed Hassan Kouka and Ahmed Ali.
The national team started preparations a while ago but not all the players joined the squad. Salah is yet to join as he's still in his much deserved break after his Champions League heroics while Al-Nenni just joined the squad a few days ago from Arsenal.
Egyptian Fooball Team
Egypt's Group A includes Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Uganda with the first game against Zimbabwe on the opening day, 21 June. The second game against DR Congo is on 26 June and the final group game against Uganda is on 30 June. Salah and his teammates should find qualifying for the knockout stages easy and will surely be hoping to go one better than the last edition of the AFCON when they lost in the final to Cameroon 2-1 in 2017.
Aguirre will get a closer look at his players in two last friendly games against Tanzania on Thursday 13 June before playing against Guinea on 16 June. The coach and his staff might have a good idea about their starting lineup against Zimbabwe but certainly the two friendlies will still have an impact and will settle any doubts in Aguirre's mind. Pyramids' Al-Shinnawi, Salah, Hegazi, Hamed, Ahmed Al-Mohamadi, Trezeguet and Al-Nenni are the names that are almost certain to start against Zimbabwe but other than that the remaining places are up for grabs and the two friendlies will probably decide who joins the final 11.
Egyptian Fooball Team
Salah will be under huge pressure to lead Egypt to the title. He himself knows that doing so will give him a very realistic chance of winning the Ballon d'Or as the best player in the world. The Champions League triumph will give him the needed boost to go one further than two years ago in the AFCON. Salah managed to win the Champions League with Liverpool this year after losing last year's final, so let's hope the same exact scenario will repeat itself with Egypt on its home territory.


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