Egypt commenced their preparations for Tuesday’s international friendly against Nigeria with a team meeting between their coach, Javier Aguirre and his players.
Footballlive.ng can, however, report that their first focus will be on the last qualification match for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, which they will host this summer, hence Aguirre’s directive to his players to maintain full focus on the tasks ahead of them.
The 2019 AFCON will take place from 21 June to 13 July, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes, and Egypt, who won the last of their record seven titles in 2010, want to use home advantage to pick a record extending eighth conquest of Africa.
That was the crux of Aguirre’s speech to his players, as The Pharaohs began their preparatory camp in Alexandria, ahead of the last qualifier against Niger Republic and subsequent friendly game against Nigeria.
Egypt, who were granted hosting rights after Cameroon was stripped in December, have already booked a place in Africa’s flagship tournament with one match to spare.
With the Mexican tactician in charge, Egypt crushed Niger 6-0, beat eSwatini 4-1 at home and 2-0 away, and dispensed with Tunisia 3-2.
They are second with 12 points in their qualifying group, level with top placed Tunisia, who enjoy a better goal difference, while Nigeria also secured a place with a match to spare, top of Group E with 10 points.
On 26 February, Aguirre named a 25-man squad, including 10 new faces, but left out Liverpool winger, Mohamed Salah, West Bromwich Albion stopper, Ahmed Hegazi and Aston Villa’s Ahmed Elmohamady to rest.
Egypt will be hosted by Niger in their final qualifier this Friday, before they face the Super Eagles away in a friendly four days later, and the country’s football federation is backing the coach and players to win.
Egyptian Football Association (EFA) stated on social media: “Coach Javier Aguirre kicked off the camp with a meeting with the players.
“(The coach spent time) stressing full concentration and doing one’s best effort during the coming 10 days.”