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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Al Ain star Hussein El Shahat expects Egypt to 'honour the Arab world at the World Cup'

Winger was omitted from the World Cup squad having received his first call-up in March following a fine run of form for Al Ain

Hussein El Shahat was named AGL fans player of the year, but his form was not rewarded with a place in Egypt's World Cup squad. Antonie Robertson / The National
Hussein El Shahat was named AGL fans player of the year, but his form was not rewarded with a place in Egypt's World Cup squad. Antonie Robertson / The National

Hussein El Shahat has backed Egypt to be “the surprise of the World Cup” despite the Al Ain midfielder missing out on the tournament.

The Egyptian, who joined the Garden City side in January, had been expected to be included in the squad for next month’s tournament in Russia following his superb form for his club.

El Shahat’s performances earned a first call-up to his national team in March, when he made his debut as a second-half substitute in the friendly against Greece in Zurich. However, Egypt manager Hector Cuper omitted the Al Ain winger from his preliminary World Cup squad.

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The North Africans, contesting a first global finals in 28 years, continue their preparations this week by taking on Kuwait in a friendly on Friday in Kuwait City. They will then play warm-up matches against Colombia and Belgium ahead of their World Cup opener against Uruguay on June 15. Egypt have been drawn in Group A alongside the South Americans, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Even though he did not make the squad, El Shahat wished his compatriots well as they attempt to make the knockout rounds for the first time.

"Whether they were going to take me or not, I will always respect the decisions of the technical staff," El Shahat told Egyptian broadcasters DMC Sports. "I am not sad and I hope the team will honour our country and the whole Arab world at the World Cup.

"The Uruguay match is definitely the toughest, and if we achieve a positive result - either a win or a draw - it will pave our way to qualify for the second round. I think Egypt will be the surprise of the World Cup and will make it to the second round."

Recruited initially on loan from Misr El Makkasa, El Shahat helped Al Ain win both the Arabian Gulf League and the President’s Cup last season – the first time in the club’s history they completed that particular double.

El Shahat scored seven goals and registered nine assists in 11 league appearances. He was later voted fans’ player of the year at the Arabian Gulf League Awards and named in the league’s best XI.

In March, El Shahat signed a permanent deal at Al Ain keeping him at the club until 2021, only days before he joined up with the Egypt squad. Yet an ankle injury restricted him to 45 minutes against Greece.

"I was injured while I was playing against Greece, but I was trying to prove that I deserved my spot," El Shahat said. "Unfortunately the injury got worse and I missed the next three games with Al Ain.

"Next time I will try to be more efficient with my opportunities and will only play when I am 100 per cent ready."

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