Surprises were the story Monday as Egypt named it’s final 23-man squad for its first World Cup finals appearance since 1990.
Sporting Braga striker Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’ was cut from the provisional 29-man squad after being a regular for manager Hector Cuper since becoming Pharaohs coach in 2015.
Even more surprising for many, he wasn’t sent home in favor of a replacement at his position.
Instead, Egypt will be going to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with just one center-forward; Al Ahly’s Marwan Mohsen.
Mohsen was Cuper’s preferred option during Egypt’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations run which saw them reach the final.
His tournament was cut short, however, after suffering a knee ligament injury in Egypt’s quarterfinal victory over Morocco.
Mohsen has struggled to regain his form since.
Elsewhere, a pair of Al Ahly goalkeepers will be backing-up evergreen net-minder Essam El-Hadary.
Sherif Ekramy’s inclusion wasn’t as big of a surprise as Mohamed El-Shenawy’s, who made multiple blunders in last Friday’s scoreless draw against Colombia. El-Shenawy made the cut over Ismaily keeper Mohamed Awad.
In midfield, Wigan Athletic’s Sam Morsy won a place over Zamalek’s Mahmoud Abdelaziz ‘Zizo’ despite the latter’s impressive display in limited opportunities for Egypt.
The main story will be Egypt’s lack of options up-front, especially given that the team normally plays with a dedicated striker and not a ‘false 9’ like most teams that do not carry an abundance of center-forwards.
It is expected that Al-Ittihad’s Mahmoud Kahraba will be Cuper’s first choice off the bench for Mohsen.
Egypt will conclude its World Cup preparations with a friendly against Belgium on Wednesday.
The Pharaohs open the tournament against Uruguay on June 15.
Essam El-Hadary (Al Taawon, KSA), Sherif Ekramy, Mohamed El-Shenawy (Al Ahly)
Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Mahmoud El-Wensh (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdelshafy (Al-Fateh, KSA), Ahmed Hegazi, Ali Gabr (West Bromwich, ENG), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa, ENG), Omar Gaber (LAFC, USA)
Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mahmoud Shikabala (Al-Raed, KSA), Abdalla El-Said (Al-Ahli, KSA), Sam Morsy (Wigan, ENG), Mohamed ElNeny (Arsenal, ENG), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City, ENG), Mahmoud Trezeguet (Kasimpasa, TUR), Amr Warda (Aritamos, GRE), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, ENG), Mahmoud Kahraba (Ittihad, KSA)
Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly)