CAIRO: Egypt should learn from past mistakes before they face Sierra Leone in their opening game of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, Egyptian FA chairman Samir Zaher said on Wednesday.
The Pharaohs are overwhelming favorites to ease past Sierra Leone on Sunday at Cairo stadium but Zaher believes that nothing should be taken for granted.
In March 2009, Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Zambia in their opening match of the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers.
"The Zambia draw was a harsh lesson. We should learn from it" Zaher, whose spell in office saw Egypt claim three successive Nations Cup titles, said on the EFA’s official website.
"I hope the fans will support the national team against Sierra Leone. We need their support regardless of whether the opponents are strong or not.
"The beginnings are always important. I hope Egypt can begin their campaign with a win."
The seven-time African champions will also face South Africa and Niger in Group G of the qualifiers.
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata opted to leave Zamalek’s influential duo Amr Zaki and Shikabala out of his side’s squad for the Sierra Leone game.
He accused them of feigning injury to skip Egypt’s first competitive match since they won the Nations Cup in Angola last January.
"Shehata has total freedom in selecting the players who represent the national team," Zaher added.
"The coach is responsible for his choices and past results prove that Shehata was always correct.
"Shehata never exclude players without convincing reasons."
Egypt will rely on some inexperienced strikers when they take on Sierra Leone.
The team’s squad includes Ismaili striker Ahmed Ali, Harras Hodoud’s Ahmed Mekki and ENPPI’s Ahmed Abdul-Zaher.
Mohamed Zidan was ruled out as he is still nursing a knee injury while Emad Meteb was dropped due to his ongoing transfer dispute with Belgian side Standard Liege.