El Hadary pledges his experience to Egypt's youngsters
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Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary vowed on Tuesday to convey all his tournament knowhow to the youngsters in the Egypt team as they fight for an eighth Cup of Nations title. El Hadary has won the crown on four occasions and will gain his 151st cap for his country in the semi-final against Burkina Faso on Wednesday night in Libreville.
His appearance at the age of 44 years and 17 days will also extend his record as the oldest man to have featured in a fixture at the Cup of Nations.
One player in the squad, Ramadan Sobhy, had not been born when El Hadary won his first cap for Egypt in 1996 and another, Karim Hafez, was in nappies. Others in the squad were still at kindergarten.
"This group of players is young,” said El Hadary on the eve of the clash at the Stade de L’Amitié. “It is my role to tell them how they have to behave and what they have to do to win a Cup of Nations.”
El Hadary won his first Cup of Nations title in 1998. His heyday came in the team that won three trophies on the trot between 2006 and 2010. However, Gabon 2017 is Egypt's first appearance in the finals since the last of those triumphs in Angola seven years ago.
Despite favourable omens for the Pharoahs – they’ve beaten Burkina Faso twice at the competition - coach Hector Cuper said he wanted his team to focus on achieving new glories. "I don’t look back. I live in the present," said the 61-year-old Argentine, who will be without the services of midfielder Mohamed Elneney and striker Marwan Mohsen.
“That’s the way it goes in a tournament," Cuper added. “In any case there is a squad of 23 players and those who play will have my total confidence.”
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