Monday Aug 30, 2021. 11:00
Egypt national team manager Hossam El Badry has expressed hope that Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny can still play in the Pharaohs’ opening World Cup Qualifier.
The North African side will come up against Angola in Cairo on September 2 and Gabon in Franceville on September 5 in their first two Group F matches.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, El Badry said he was hopeful that an agreement can be reached between the UK Government and the Egyptian FA to allow the players to travel for the matches, even though Egypt is currently on the ‘red’ travel list over Covid-19 concerns.
This means that Salah and Elneny would need to quarantine for 10 days after returning from international duty – effectively ruling them out of at least one round of Premier League action for their respective clubs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to relax the rules for Premier League players, meaning that 60 players across the top-flight will miss international fixtures.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have informed El Badry that their players can travel for Egypt’s away fixture in Gabon, but will not be allowed to take part in the earlier home game against Angola.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has written to the Prime Minister to request an exemption for all the players affected by the restrictions and El Badry remains confident a compromise can be found.
“My message to them [the UK Government] is that football is very important, and especially in England, they know this,” said the Pharaohs boss.
“This qualification is very important so they can solve this and they can be sure that after participating with us they don’t have to quarantine and can go back to their clubs.
“Of course it’s unfair, it’s an unfair position because this is qualification for the World Cup and it would be unfair for some teams who can’t have all their players, like Egypt or other teams. I’m sure we can find a solution and make it a win-win.
“The players accept this situation, both Mohamed Elneny and Mohamed Salah are very keen to come and participate with the team. We talked today and they told me that they hope the issue is solved.
“But unfortunately so far, we don’t have any good news. I think we can release the players and make the rules and can use PCR testing, but it is unfair to lose a player.”