It initially seemed coach Javier Aguirre would snub the classic play-maker Abdallah El-Said, given his age.
However, the 33-year-old put in a series of impressive displays with Pyramids in the Egyptian Premier League to force Aguirre to have a re-think, with the Mexican admitting that El-Said’s experience would be an asset.
He scored six goals and provided 10 assists to help Pyramids finish third in the domestic league.
If Mohamed Salah is seen as Egypt’s deadliest weapon, El-Said is the man who holds the trigger.
The gifted playmaker dictates the attacking flow of Egypt, thanks to his vision and ability to carve out openings with his exceptional passing skills.
He blossomed in the past few years with his former club Ahly, prompting ex-Egypt coach Hector Cuper to rely on him as one of the national team’s key players.
His capabilities are unmatched in Egypt. He provides the perfect link between defence and offence, orchestrating attacks through his astute defence-splitting passes as well as goal-scoring instincts.
El-Said made his Egypt debut in 2008. He went on to make 39 international appearances, scoring six goals and providing nine assists.
The keen understanding he forged with Liverpool forward Salah was cited as one of the main reasons Egypt were able to reach the World Cup after a 28-year absence.