The coach of Egypt’s national team has decided to play three friendlies, amid the final preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations this summer, team manager Ihab Leheta revealed on Wednesday.
“The technical staff, headed by [coach Javier] Aguirre, decided to play three friendly matches at most ahead of the tournament. I hope we play one of them at Cairo Stadium,” Leheta told MBC Masr TV channel.
The Pharaohs kicked off their preparatory camp in Alexandria on Sunday, ahead of a 2019 AFCON qualifier against Niger on 22 March and a subsequent friendly game against Nigeria four days later.
“The coach prefers to postpone choosing the identity of the three teams until the draw of the African Cup is announced,” Leheta added.
The Pharaohs, who have already booked a place in Africa’s flagship tournament with one match to spare, are second with 12 points in their qualifying group, level with leaders Tunisia who enjoy a better goal difference.
Egypt was granted the tournament’s hosting rights in January after Cameroon was stripped of those rights in December.
On 26 February, Aguirre named a 25-man squad for the Niger and Nigeria tests, including 10 new faces. The list did not include Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, Aston Villa’s Ahmed Elmohamady and West Bromwich Albion’s centre-back Ahmed Hegazi, to allow them to rest.
With the Mexican coach at the helm, Egypt have crushed Niger 6-0, defeated eSwatini 4-1 at home and 2-0 away, and dispensed with Tunisia 3-2 via a stoppage-time strike from Salah.
The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place from 21 June to 13 July, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.
Egypt won the last of their record seven AFCON titles in 2010.