Egypt are the 2-time defending champions of the African Cup of Nations, a tournament that they have won a record 6 times. The Pharaohs were also the first African nation to make an appearance in the World Cup (1934), and have twice played for the bronze medal at the Olympics (1928 and 1964). However, this is only their 2nd journey to the Confederations Cup, having gone out in the first round on a 0-2-1 record in 1999.
Currently sporting a FIFA ranking of 40, Egypt find themselves in the Group of Death (Group B) for the Confederations Cup. They open their tournament with a match against Brazil on June 15th at Bloemfontein, followed by a tilt with Italy on June 18th in Johannesburg and the USA on June 21st in Rustenberg.
While the assumption is that Brazil and Italy will advance to the semi-finals, The Pharaohs still represent Africa's best chance at winning the Confederations Cup for the first time. They had been in fine form recently, until their last 2 World Cup Qualifiers, a 1-1 draw at home against Zambia and a discouraging 3-1 loss away to Algeria.
She-Hate-Me Shehata has a 23-man roster that features 5 guys named Mohamed, 8 guys named Ahmed, and 0 guys named Mido. This is not all that surprising considering previous quarrels between the 2 men (Mido was famously thrown out of the 2006 African Cup of Nations by Shehata after the former remonstrated his substitution), but many have argued that pairing the Latics (on loan from Boro) striker with Zaki presented the best chance of winning. Considering that Mido was also left off the roster for the match against Algeria (for "tactical" reasons), these individuals may have a point. Given that only 4 players on the current roster play for a club outside of Africa, it would certainly seem that having Mido on the pitch would be beneficial.
Regardless of the reasons for Mido's absence, the roster for the current competition is as follows:
GK: Essam El Hadary (Sion - Swiss Super League); Wahid; Mohamed Sobhi
DEF: Mahmoud Fathalla; Ahmed Said; Ahmed Khairy; Hani Said; Ahmed Farag; Ahmed Hassan; Ahmed Ahbdelghany
MID: Ahmed Al Muhamadi; Ahmed Fathi; Hosni Abd Rabbou; Ahmed Eid; Mohamed Shawky (Boro - EPL); Mohamed Homos; Abdelaziz Tawfik; Sayed Moawad; Amr Zaki (Wigan - EPL)
ST: Mohamed Zidan (Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga); Wael Gomaa; Raouf; Mohamed Aboutrika
For a team that failed to qualify for World Cup 2006 in Germany, a few respectable results at the Confederations Cup may be just what they need to build momentum for a successful bid to World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Sitting in 4th in Group C after 2 matches for World Cup qualifying, The Pharaohs need to show the world why they should still be considered the most powerful nation of African football.