The Return of the Pharaohs | 2017 Africa Cup of Nations | #CAN2017

The Return of the Pharaohs | 2017 Africa Cup of Nations | #CAN2017 For the first time since the Arab Spring of 2011 — and the suspension of its...

The Return of the Pharaohs | 2017 Africa Cup of Nations | #CAN2017

For the first time since the Arab Spring of 2011 — and the suspension of its domestic league the following year — Egypt’s national team will finally play in a major football tournament.

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The seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champion arrives in Gabon with an experienced squad anchored by Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny and Hull City defender Ahmed Elmohamady, alongside exciting AS Roma striker Mohamed Salah.

Egypt booked its 23rd appearance at the tournament by qualifying unbeaten from Group G ahead of three-time champion Nigeria.

Egypt’s new generation

Mohamed Salah goal against Ghana

There has been an influx of new talent into the national team setup with only four players remaining from their last AFCON appearance in 2010: Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed Abdelshafi, Ahmed Fathi, and 43-year-old Essam El Hadary. The latter was called out of retirement by Cuper after a two-year absence, and could make tournament history by becoming the oldest player to feature at the finals. Cuper has rotated the three goalkeepers at his disposal recently, but with El Hadary in goal in their opening two World Cup qualifiers, there’s an indication the veteran goalkeeper could retain his place in Gabon.

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AS Roma striker Mohamed Salah is the face of the new Egyptian side where he leads by example from the frontline. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny remains an integral member of the team where he orchestrates play from deep in front of the defense. If Salah and Elneny are recognizable names, the unknown quality who could be Egypt’s X-factor is Stoke City winger Ramadan Sobhi. The 19-year-old is extremely tricky, never stops running, and as his performance against Nigeria showed, the youngster has an eye for goal. Goal-scoring could be an issue at the finals with strikers Mahmoud Abdelmoneim Kahraba, Ahmed Hassan (no relation to the legendary midfielder), and Marwan Mohsen scoring just 10 international goals between them. The exclusion of Zamalek striker Basem Morsy over what appears to be a disciplinary issue was a bit of a surprise.

With Cuper preaching hard work, defensive solidity, and teamwork, Egypt may not be as eye-catching as they were in previous tournaments. But after their long journey back, the Pharaohs will be intent on leaving a mark in Gabon — and with a benign group of familiar foes, Africa’s most successful side could yet make an impression on their return to the big time.

Egypt’s final squad is as follows:

Keepers:

Ahmed El-Shennawi (Zamalek), Essam El-Hadary (Wadi Degla) and Sherif Ekramy (Ahly).

Defenders:

Ahmed Dwidar (Zamalek), Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull City, England), Ahmed Fathi (Ahly), Ahmed Hegazy (Ahly), Ali Gabr (Zamalek), Karim Hafez (Racing Club de Lens – France), Mohamed Abdel-Shafi (Ahly Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Omar Gaber (FC Basel, Switzerland) and Saad Samir (Ahly).

Midfielders:

Abdallah El-Said (Ahly), Amr Warda (Panetolikos, Greece), Ibrahim Salah (Zamalek), Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan (Mouscron, Belgium), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal, England), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek) and Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City, England)

Forwards:

Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’ (Braga, Portugal), Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim ‘Kahraba’ (Ahly Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Marwan Mohsen (Ahly) and Mohamed Salah (AS Roma, Italy).

Egypt will take on Ghana, Mali and Uganda in Group D of the 2017 cup.

VIDEOS: Egypt preparation in Gabon

Egyptian National Team Stars

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