Egypt's World Cup 2018 preparations boosted by 'important' training camp in Zurich
Hector Cuper's squad have spent a week in Switzerland preparing for the tournament in June, and after losing to Portugal in a friendly on Friday go up against Greece on Tuesday.
Egypt’s current training camp in Switzerland is vital to both mirror their World Cup programme and strengthen team spirit for Russia, according to team manager Ehab Leheta.
The Northern Africans, set to contest a first global finals in 28 years, have been based in Zurich since last Tuesday, where they have trained every day.
On Friday, they faced European champions Portugal in a friendly, losing 2-1 despite leading heading into stoppage time. They next play Greece on Tuesday, in another friendly at the same Stadion Letzigrund.
The camp, which features 17 overseas-based players and 28 in all, is the first time the squad has met since last November, one month after they sealed only a third World Cup appearance – and first since 1990.
Egypt have one more get-together before embarking on their Group A assignment, which features Uruguay, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt have one more get-together before embarking on their Group A assignment, which features Uruguay, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia. The next camp will feature a match against Kuwait in Kuwait City on May 26, to act as ideal preparation for their second pool match, against Gulf opponents Saudi.
Egypt will also play Colombia and Belgium before opening their World Cup account against Uruguay in Yekaterinburg on June 15.
Leheta said the management are pleased with the Zurich camp, designed to perform a number of functions. In particular, mimicking the schedule in Russia, working on tactics and team bonding.
“This is an extremely important camp,” he said. “We have two strong friendly matches that have been arranged for a long time. So they’re very important for us for the start of our preparations for the World Cup, and we have three matches in the coming period also.
“We selected Zurich for a specific reason. To go outside of Egypt, just to have the players get used to playing two matches in one week and travelling – this is the same exercise that will be implemented in the World Cup.
“In the World Cup we have a team base [Grozny], and then have three matches in almost 12 days. So it’s very important to be in the same situation.”
Hector Cuper’s side, who finished runner-up at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, have seemed to enjoy the camp thus far, even with Friday’s defeat to Portugal. The Argentine has been a typically vocal presence during training sessions, as he seeks to make the most of the eight days in Switzerland.
“This is the first Fifa date from November, and now we have three months to prepare the team,” Leheta said. “Because there has been a long, long period since we last had a camp, there are lots of things from Mr Cuper’s side that he wanted to work on, to implement ideas with the players.
“Unfortunately, we’ve two matches in one week with travelling, so we’re running out of time. But he’s doing his best during training for the tactics and the technical side. The team are very happy. They’ve been having a good time. From a personal aspect, this is very important for the team atmosphere.”
Updated: March 26, 2018 09:15 AM