Egypt’s national football team kicked off its preparatory camp in Alexandria on Sunday ahead of the 2019 AFCON qualifier against Niger and a subsequent friendly game against Nigeria.
Egypt will be hosted by Niger in their final African Cup of Nations qualifier on March 22 before facing the Super Eagles away in a friendly match four days later.
“Coach Javier Aguirre kicked off the camp with a meeting with the players, stressing full concentration and doing one’s best effort during the coming 10 days,” the Egyptian Football Association reported in a statement on its official Facebook page.
“The first training session of the camp started on Sunday with the presence of 14 players (the local-based ones),” the statement 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.
Nigeria also secured a place at the finals as they are currently topping Group E with 10 points.
On February 26, Aguirre named a 25-man squad for the Niger and Nigeria tests, including 10 new faces, while dropping 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 Aguirre at the helm, Egypt crushed Niger 6-0, defeated Swatini 4-1 at home and 2-0 away, and dispensed with Tunisia 3-2 via a stoppage-time strike from Mohamed Salah.
The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place June 21 to July 13, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.
Egypt won the last of their record seven titles in 2010.