Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Egypt Football Team | Final Squad, Preview, Predictions
Egypt, one of the hottest favorites at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations 2019 have announced their final 23-man squad for the pan-African tournament, with Liverpool's Mo Salah and Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny leading the lineup at the biennial continental extravaganza.
The Pharaohs find themselves in a relatively easier Group A, with only DR Congo likely to pose some serious problems for Javier Aguirre's contingent. The host nation had cruised through the AFCON 2019 Qualifiers Group J, scoring 16 goals in just 6 games. However, Tunisia beat them to the group winner's title with a margin of two points.
Being the host nation, there are huge expectations from the seven-time champion who will be playing in their own backyard.
With an eye on the prize, after a late disappointment at the previous edition, the team had already begun their preparations for the competition earlier this month. However, the key players Salah and Elneny only joined the national team on a later date, following their exertions with their clubs at the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League respectively.
The nation was the winner at the inaugural edition of the tournament back in 1957. In the 1959, 1986 and 1998 editions, Egypt tasted success too. They created history when they absolutely dominated at the event for the better part of the last decade, lifting the coveted title three times in a row between 2006 and 2010.
With Salah at the peak of his career, it would be expected that the most successful team at the have better luck this time around as compared to their heart-breaking loss at the final in 2017 to five-time champion Cameroon at Gabon.
Coming to Aguirre's selection, it was pretty straight-forward. The majority of the squad are based in Egypt, while four players playing in English football made the cut. The squad looks well balanced, with the Mexican manager opting for a internationally experienced squad over young talents.
One thing that might come back to bite them is the inclusion of Ayman Ashraf, as the only proper left-back named in the squad.
All being said, support from the home crowd, a mix of youth with experienced players and an attacking mindset would make them one of the strongest contenders for the trophy.
Egypt full squad
Goalkeepers: Ahmed El-Shenawy, Mohamed El-Shennawy, Mahmoud Gennesh .
Defenders: Ahmed Elmohamady, Baher El-Mohamady, Ahmed Hegazi, Mahmoud Alaa, Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh, Ahmed Ayman Mansour, Omar Gaber, Ayman Ashraf.
Midfielders: Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Elneny, Ali Ghazal, Nabil Emad Dunga, Abdallah El-Said, Walid Soliman, Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet, Amr Warda.
Strikers: Ahmed Ali, Marwan Mohsen, Ahmed Hassan Kouka.
Mohamed Salah: The 27-year-old forward, has had a tremendous season with Liverpool. Not only did he retain his Premier League Golden Boot award, he finally laid his hands on the Champions League trophy. In the 2017/18 season, a tackle from Sergio Ramos saw his maiden appearance at the elite final being cut short to just 30 minutes.
He has been instrumental for the Reds throughout the season and almost led them to their first league title in 29 years.
He has made a name for himself over the last few seasons and if this team has someone to look up to, Salah is the man.
Ahmed Elmohamady: Elmohamady, the man wearing the captain's armband for The Pharaohs, is surprisingly one of the greatest attacking threat from the hosts, despite him being a full-fledged defender.
The former Sunderland player is well equipped to deliver pin-point crosses into the boxes and when the occasion calls for, he is equally capable of scoring in the goals himself.
Being one of the most experienced player in the squad, as well as one of the handful players with experience in Europe's top level leagues, he will have to shoulder his fair share of responsibilities to ensure that Egypt win a record-extending eighth honor after a long wait of nine years.
Mohamed Elneny: Obviously, a look at Elneny's stats for the season make it evident that the player has been somewhat of an outcast at The Emirates, with only eight league appearances under his belt.
Despite that, one thing that has been established beyond doubt is that he adds a real quality to the North African team's midfield. His explosiveness and ability to break plays going forward bodes well for his team that has a really capable front three. Hence, Egypt might find his tireless pursuit of the ball really helpful.
Egypt Fixtures at AFCON 2019
Egypt vs Zimbabwe - 22nd June
Egypt vs DR Congo - 27th June
Uganda vs Egypt - 1st July