CAIRO: Veteran defender Abdel-Zaher Al-Saqqa, who earned an Egypt call up for the first time in two years, firmly rebuffed reports that he asked coach Hassan Shehata to wear the skipper s armband.
I don t have the right to make such a request because Ahmed Hassan, who began his Egypt career several years before me, is the captain, Al-Saqqa told FilGoal.com on Wednesday.
I played many games with Hassan while he was skipper and there weren t any problems, why would I ask for the armband now?
Hassan is like my brother, we played in the Turkish league for 10 years and our relationship is very good.
Al-Saqqa, who plays for Turkish side Eskisehirspor, made his last Egypt appearance in a friendly game against Kuwait in 2007.
He was surprisingly included in the Pharaohs squad for next month s crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Algeria to fill the void left by Wael Gomaa s suspension.
I m very surprised that such fake reports came up few hours after I was named in the squad, added Al-Saqqa, who was part of Egypt s 1998 and 2006 African Cup of Nations winning squads.
People will not believe the rumor about the skipper s armband because they know that my relationship with Hassan is very good, but other rumors could affect Egypt in such a crucial stage.
Ahly midfielder Hassan, who made his debut with Egypt in 1995, said he had no doubt that Al-Saqqa did not demand to be granted the armband.
Al-Saqqa s morals can not be questioned, I m sure he did not make any comments regarding that matter, the 34-year-old stated.
Anyway, I don t mind giving the armband to Al-Saqqa against Algeria because he is an experienced player who can rise to the occasion.
I have no problems whatsoever; I can also give it to a young player. It doesn t really matter who will wear it, we just need to fulfill the fans dream of reaching the World Cup.
Egypt need to beat Algeria by a three-goal margin at Cairo Stadium to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
A win by a two-goal margin will set up a playoff against the Desert Foxes, who haven t reach the football s most prestigious event since 1986.