Injury hit champs face tough task

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Included in head coach Hassan Shehata’s final list is injured Turkish-based defender Ibrahim Saied who is still recovering from a knee problem.

But according to reports from Egypt, team doctors have stated the player will be fit just in time for the competition.

Excluded from the Ghana-bound squad are Ismaili FC defender Sherif Abdul-Fadil, Walid Soliman and Osama Mohammed.

The Egyptians, who last week defeated the Eagles of Mali 1-0 in an international friendly, will be up against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Sudan’s Nile Crocodiles and the Chipolopolo Boys of Zambia in Group C of the African Nation’s Cup.

They have won the Caf showpiece a record five time, one more than tournament hosts Ghana and Cameroon.

Goalkeepers: Essam Al-Hadari (Ahli), Mohamed Abdul-Monsef (Zamalek), Mohamed Sobhi (Ismaili).

Defenders: Shadi Mohamed, Ahmed Fathi (Ahli), Wael Gomaa (Al-Siliya, Qatar), Ibrahim Saied (Ankaragucu, Turkey), Hani Saied, Sayed Moawad (Ismaili), Mahmoud Fathallah, Tarek Al-Sayed (Zamalek), Ahmed Al-Mohammadi (ENPPI).

Midfielders: Hosni Abd-Rabou, Omar Gamal (Ismaili), Mohamed Shawki (Middlesbrough, Eng), Ahmed Hassan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Hassan Mostafa (Al-Wehda, KSA), Ahmed Shaaban (Petrojet), Mohamed Abou-Treika (Ahlli).

Strikers: Mohamed Zidan (Hamburg, Germany), Amr Zaki (Zamalek), Emad Meteb (Ahli), Mohamed Fadl (Ismaili).

Shehata says he believes that Sudan will be the surprise package in Ghana.

“Everyone is asking me about Cameroon and Zambia, although I honestly believe that a team like Sudan can go as far as winning the Cup.

“Sudanese football has progressed tremendously in the last few years. They had two clubs in the final rounds of the African club competitions last year and they can do the same in Ghana.”

Sudan finished top of their Nations Cup qualifying group ahead of Tunisia and in December they won the Cecafa Cup with a second-string side.

Shehata himself is focussed on becoming only the second coach to win successive Nations Cup titles.

Ghana's Charles Gyamfi won the title in 1963 and 1965, and added a third in 1982.

“This is my personal challenge; it would be the biggest achievement of my career. This year’s tournament is much tougher than the one we won on home soil two years ago. At least 12 of the 16 finalists are capable of winning the title.”