CAIRO: Zamalek coach Hossam Hassan asked Egypt manager Hassan Shehata to drop Shikabala for next week’s friendly game against Australia.
The 24-year-old wizard was replaced in the second half of Zamalek’s 3-2 Egyptian Premier League victory over Ismaili last Wednesday after picking up a back injury.
He was still included in Egypt’s squad for the Australia game, with assistant coach Hamada Sedki saying that his condition will be assessed by the national team’s doctors.
"Egypt will play a friendly game which is not that important, so why should Shikabala play while he is injured," Hassan, who played under the guidance of Shehata during the Pharaohs’ 2006 Nations Cup triumphant campaign, said.
"Shikabala suffered the back complaint midway through the first half but I tried to keep him on the pitch until halftime. I had no option but to replace him after the break."
The talented forward helped Zamalek to a hard-fought victory over Ismaili with another impressive display.
He brought the White Knights level after Ismaili took a 20th-minute lead, bamboozling his marker Abdullah Shahat with a neat turn before firing a left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.
He also sent in the low cross which Ismaili defender Moatasem Salem inadvertently converted into his own net to give Zamalek a precious win that moved them three points clear of arch-rivals Ahly at the top of the table.
Shikabala, who has taken his tally to five league goals so far this season, was accused by Shehata few months ago of feigning injury to skip Egypt’s opening 2012 Nations Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone.
The highly-successful coach also criticized Shikabala for ‘being too passive when losing the ball’.
"Representing Egypt is an honor for every player, including Shikabala who is keen to play for the national team," Hassan added.
"He was part of Egypt’s squad for the 2010 Nations Cup and was still available for selection in the training camps that followed the tournament."