Egypt Preview

OK, so it’s not Tuesday but we’re an hour or so away from kick off so there’s actually still time to bring you some interesting facts and figures about tonight’s opponents.

I’m not sure if Egyptwere chosen to provide typical North African opposition ahead of our game with Algeria or not, but if the pasting our visitors gave the Algerians in the recent African Cup of Nations semi finals is anything to go by then we probably shouldn’t be too worried. We’re not playing Algeria though, we’re playing the country that has won three consecutive African Cup of Nations tournament and arguably ought to have qualified for South Africa.

The appropriately nicknamed Pharoahs (although their Wikipedia entry says something else!) are ranked 17th in the world by FIFA, a position that puts them ahead of  Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Denmark amongst others; they actually rated in the top ten last month, which is the highest point they have ever reached. They have reached the finals of the World Cup twice: in 1934 they travelled to all the way to France and lost their only game 2-4 to Hungary in the first round. In 1990 they were drawn in the same first round group as us and we won our last meeting with them 1-0 with a rare Mark Wright goal.

Somewhat similar to the Mexicans and ourselves, you don’t normally find that many Egyptians playing abroad and tonight’s Egyptian squad seems to confirms this. Only five players play for clubs outside Egypt’s Premier League: strikers Amr Zaki of Hull City and Mohamed Zidan of Borussia Dortmund are the best known of that group. The rest of the team is dominated by players from the two big Cairo teams – six from current league leaders Al Ahly and five from Zamalek. The most capped player in the side is captain Ahmed Hassanwith 173 appearances (he’s been in the national side more or less continuously since 1994) who is also current joint top leading scorer in the squad with Emad Moteab, who has been linked with a number of English clubs in the past and actually was a Bristol City player for about five minutes, but that’s another story for another day.

Due to…ummm…’domestic commitments’ (make of that what you will) there will be no live blog tonight, but there will be some kind of match report posted later. And remember – no booing John Terry because Wayne Rooney said so.

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