Egypt coach Javier Aguirre already has “80-90%” of his 2019 African Cup of Nations squad, according to assistant coach Hany Ramzy.
By virtue of hosting the competition, the Pharaohs have automatically qualified for the biennial continental event, but still travel to Niger for their final Afcon qualifier before squaring up against Nigeria in a friendly, both billed for March 23 and 26 respectively.
Aguirre named a 25-man squad for the games, leaving out big players such as Liverpool star and African Player of the Year Mohamed Salah and defensive maestro Ahmed Hegazi.
Ramzy, who disclosed that the announcement of the final squad for the tournament is due in two months, explained that the guaranteed players will join those that pass Niger, and particularly, the Super Eagles - given the competitive nature anticipated at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba - auditions.
“Aguirre has settled on 80-90% of the names that will join our squad at the African Cup. We feel comfortable as we are guaranteed a spot at the finals that will be played at home,” Ramzy told MBC Masr, per King Fut.
“The final squad will be announced in two months, so will involve a bigger vision after we have seen the new faces play at this camp. Leaving out some players this time doesn’t mean that they won’t join the team again.”
“The Niger and Nigeria matches are a chance to examine new faces that could have a role in the African Cup, especially as they will play under the fans’ pressure against Nigeria, like in official games.”
“We want to give the youth players a chance, and also to prepare and provide them with the experience of preparatory camps, even if they aren’t selected for the tournament.”
Entag El-Harby’s Amer Amer and Al Wehda’s Mohamed Awad are likely to face an uphill task of making the final cut after both goalkeepers pulled out of the games due to injuries.