Today in the second of 8 blogs, I will take a look at the very much underrated Egypt side. They will kick off their tourney against Brazil on June 15 at 10:00 at the Free State Stadium. They are also joined in Group B with the United States and Italy.
On that date, Egypt will look to cap off what has been a very good set of years leading up to this tourney. Egypt have won the 2006 and 2008 African Cup of Nations tourney, which qualifies them to enter the Confederations Cup. Egypt have also had a pretty good run in qualifying thus far, but the still have 5 matches left to play and they must win their group to qualify. In this competition, Egypt will look to instill fear in their African opponents as well as gain confidence from playing the best of the best. Remember, this team has taken the likes of Argentina (with Messi and Tevez) to the end in friendlies. And no to mention, they played three of the African powerhouses in the Cup of Nations knockout rounds in Angola (Manucho), Ivory Coast (Toure and Drogba), and Cameroon (Eto'o).
Strength- With Egypt, I've always one key thing. They can develop the heck out of some strikers. Those strikers haven't always been the greatest for the national team, but they've always found a way to get some of these guys into European play. They used to use Mido in big games, but that is no longer the case. But instead they stumbled upon Amr Zaki, only one of the Premier League's most deadliest strikers in the first half of the season. With the attack playing well, there is no reason that they can't surprise Italy and Brazil.
Weakness- When looking at previous Egyptian rosters, I noticed a huge problem. The team is not very deep and very inexperienced. If Zaki or Shawky were to go down, a suitable replacement may not be found. This is a huge problem. Egypt have very few European tested players in the squad and if one of them were to go down, they are in serious trouble. Hassan Shehata, Egypt's manager, will have to make sure to have contingency plans and will have to know which inexperienced guys can play well when needed.
Player to Watch- A guy that I probably should have already mentioned, but I did not. This man is the best player in the Arab world right now. His name is Mohamed Zidan. The Borussia Dortmund man is still relatively new to the national team and has been relied on more and more by Egypt since his move to Germany. Zidan is listed as a striker, but he'll likely be a withdrawn forward or attacking midfielder come South Africa in order to accommodate Amr Zaki. Zaki can hold while Zidan runs on and that is going to be a tough tandem to stop for any of the three sides in the group. Juan, Lucio, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Cannavaro, and Chiellini will have to be on their toes. If Zidan can play well doing whatever Shehata has him doing, Egypt can do well in this tourney.
Prediction- In the Group of Death, Group B, Egypt will impress and do well. But not well enough to advance. Egypt comes in third.
Thanks, it's been Keeper and I'm out.