LONDON: Javier Aguirre already knows 80-90 percent of his African Cup of Nations squad, according to his Egypt assistant coach Hany Ramzy.
The Pharaohs face Niger for their final AFCON qualifier on Saturday, knowing they have already qualified, before facing Nigeria in a friendly three days later.
Both matches are effectively warm-up matches for the tournament which takes place in Egypt in June and July, and coach Aguirre is now apparently thinking more about tactics than personnel.
“Aguirre has settled on 80-90 percent of the names that will join our squad at the African Cup. We feel comfortable as we are guaranteed a spot at the finals,” Ramzy told King Fut website.
For this weekend’s matches Aguirre has left his big-name players such as Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Hegazi at home so he can have a look at some of those on the fringe of the squad. A tough match is expected in Nigeria and that could be the last chance some have to impress the Mexican coach, with the final squad announcement expected in two months.
“(The final squad) will involve a bigger vision after we have seen the new faces play at this camp. Leaving out some players this time doesn’t mean that they won’t join the team again,” Ramzy said.
“The Niger and Nigeria matches are a chance to examine new faces that could have a role in the African Cup, especially as they will play under the fans’ pressure against Nigeria.
“We want to give the youth players a chance, and also to prepare and provide them with the experience of preparatory camps, even if they aren’t selected for the tournament.”
After last year’s World Cup disappointment, when Salah and Co, lost all three matches in Russia, there will be a lot of pressure on the Pharaohs to do well in front of their expectant fans.