Pharaohs start FIFA Arab Cup 2021 campaign with game against Lebanon

Daily News Egypt
11 Min Read

The Qatari capital, Doha, will host on Wednesday the Egyptian national football team’s game against Lebanon in their opening game of the Arab Cup.

Egypt’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz chose a 23-player squad for the competition, devoid of those playing outside Egypt because it is a friendly tournament, and the team see it as a preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Arab Cup consists of four groups. Group A: Qatar, Iraq, Oman, and Bahrain. Group B: Tunisia, UAE, Syria, and Mauritania. Group C: Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Palestine. Group D: Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, and Sudan.

The Egyptian team’s major absences in the Arab Cup include Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny, Galatasaray’s Mustafa Mohamed, Stuttgart’s Omar Marmoush, and Altay’s Ahmed Yasser Rayan.

Queiroz also excluded the players of Pyramids FC and Al-Masry as they play in the African Confederation Cup at the same time.

The Portuguese coach settled on the game plan with which he will face his Lebanese counterpart, and the team’s training during the past days since the mission’s arrival in Doha on Saturday evening, playing in an offensive manner based on the exploitation of the two sides of the side through the speed of the duo Mustafa Fathi and Akram Tawfik. The coach asked the players during his session with them to focus on winning the Arab title so that it would be his first championship with the national team.

He stressed that the player who will prove his worth in the tournament will continue with him during the next stage, calling for good use of the opportunity in the absence of a large number of players for various reasons.

Queiroz warned against sluggishness in the matches, especially after it was rumoured that the competing teams did not call up their best players. He also prevented his assistant staff from speaking in the media throughout the tournament period.

He settled on the starting lineup for the Lebanon match. It is expected that the Pharaohs will start with a formation consisting of Mohamed Al-Shennawi in goalkeeping, Akram Tawfik, Ahmed Hegazy, Ayman Ashraf and Ahmed Fattouh in defense, Hamdi Fathi and Amr Al-Sulayya in midfield, in front of them is the trio Ahmed Refaat, Magdy Afsha, Ahmed Sayed Zizou and RWaheed Mohamed Sharif.

Egypt will play Sudan on 4 December and conclude the group stage with a strong clash against Algeria on 7 December.

FIFA Arab Cup 2021 Prize Money

The Organizing Committee of the Arab Cup in Qatar announced that each team qualified for the competition (16) will receive $750k. The winning team of FIFA Arab Cup 2021 will get $5m, while the runner-up receives $3m guaranteed, and the third place team receives $2m, in addition to participation rewards.

Four appearances and one title

The 10th edition of the Arab Cu was held for the first time under the auspices of the International Football Association FIFA. 

Egypt’s first appearance in the Arab Cup was in its fifth edition in 1988 which was held in Jordan. Ten teams participated in that tournament, divided into two groups. The Pharaohs were placed in the second group, which included Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt topped the group with 5 points after goalless draws with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and a 3-0 victory over Lebanon. Taher Abu Zeid, Ayman Shawky, and Hossam Hassan scored for Egypt.

In the quarter-finals, Egypt beat Tunisia 1-0. In the semi-finals, the Pharaohs lost to Syria 4-3 on penalties, after the match ended in a goalless draw.

In the third place playoff, Egypt defeated Jordan 2-0, scored by Alaa Mihoub and Hossam Hassan.

The Egyptian national team participated in the Arab Cup in the sixth edition in 1992 in Syria, and only 6 teams participated in this edition.

The Pharaohs were in the second group along with Jordan and Kuwait. They began with a draw with Jordan and a 1-0 win over Kuwait. In the semi-finals, Egypt defeated Syria 4-3 on penalties, after the match ended in a goalless draw.

In the final, Egypt beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 in a very exciting game. Sami Al-Shishni, Ahmed Al-Kas, and Hossam Hassan scored for Egypt.

Egypt participated in the seventh edition of the Arab Cup in 1998, which comprised 12 teams.

The Egyptian team were in the second group, which included Kuwait and Syria. The Pharaohs beat Syria 2-1 by goals from Abdullah Ragab and Abdul Latif Al-Domani. However, they lost to Kuwait 1-4 to bid farewell to the tournament.

Egypt’s fourth appearance in the Arab Cup was in the 2012 edition hosted by Saudi Arabia. The Olympic team represented Egypt in this edition, and the goal was to prepare the team for the Olympics.

The Egyptian team were placed in Group C along with Iraq, Sudan, and Lebanon. Egypt drew 1-1 with Sudan and Lebanon, and lost to Iraq 2-1. Egypt finished third in the group with only two points.

Who will miss Arab Cup 2021

In the following lines, we review the top 10 stars who will miss the Arab Cup 2021:

#Mohamed Salah

Although the tournament is held under the auspices of FIFA, Liverpool refused to allow the team’s star Mohamed Salah to lead the Egyptian national team in the Arab Cup.

However, Salah is expected to participate with the Pharaohs in the Africa Cup of Nations Cup from 9 January to 6 February in Cameroon.

#Riyad Mahrez

The Algerian national team will participate in the Arab Cup with players from the local league, which means the absence of their brilliant stars in Europe.

Riyad Mahrez, the star of Manchester City, is at the head of the Algerian professionals absent from the Arab championship.

#Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech

The Moroccan national team will also participate in the Arab Cup with the local team, with Ashraf Hakimi, the defender of Paris Saint-Germain, and Hakim Ziyech, the Chelsea star, at the head of the absent stars from the Atlas Lions squad in the tournament.

#Salem Al-Dosari and Fahad Al-Mawlid

The French coach of Saudi Arabia, Hervé Renard, decided that the first team players would not participate in the 2021 Arab Cup, relying on young players born in 1999 and above, with the assistant coach leading the tournament.

This decision deprived a number of Saudi stars from participating in the upcoming edition of the Arab Cup 2021, most notably Salem Al-Dosari, who won the AFC Champions League with his team Al Hilal, and was crowned the best player in the tournament.

Veteran star Fahd Al-Mawlid is also among the most prominent absentees in the 2021 Arab Cup.

#Omar Khirbin

A few days ago, Al Wahda Club of the United Arab Emirates submitted an official apology to the Syrian Football Association for not allowing their striker Omar Kharbin to join the team in the 2021 Arab Cup.

#Wahbi Khazri

The Tunisian national team will include players from the local and Arab leagues, during the 2021 Arab Cup. Thus, the Carthage Eagles will miss their stars in Europe, led by veteran striker Wahbi Khazri, who plays for French Saint-Etienne.

#Ali Adnan

The Iraqi star just joined the Danish club Vejle Boldklub 3 weeks ago, so he will not be able to play in the Arab Cup.

#Hassan Maatouk

The historical top scorer of the Lebanese national team will not participate in the Arab Cup 2021 due to injury.

When was the Arab Cup formed?

The FIFA Arab Cup sees 16 teams from across the Arab world come together to compete. The event offers a great opportunity for competitors and spectators alike to experience the spirit of Qatar and the iconic stadiums that will host the World Cup in 2022. 

The Arab Cup was established 58 years ago in 1963. It was a brainchild of the then president of the Lebanese Football Association (LFA), Goerges Dabbas. The first-ever Arab Cup was held in Lebanon where five teams participated; Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia.

Till date, nine editions of the tournament have been held. After three editions (1963, 1964, and 1966), there was a gap of 19 years. The 10th Arab Cup returns after a nine-year hiatus, but in a new form under the auspices of the International Football Association FIFA, and the tournament will be played on the 2022 World Cup stadiums. 

Five teams won the Arab Cup title in the previous editions, the Iraqi team is the most crowned with four titles, followed by Saudi Arabia (two), and Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia (one title each).

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