Hussein El Shahat’s hopes of making the World Cup have been dealt a significant blow after the Al Ain star was omitted from Egypt’s latest squad.
The midfielder, who has been in superb form since joining the UAE champions in January, looked poised to be a late inclusion having made his national-team debut in March.
El Shahat was part of the squad that manager Hector Cuper brought to Zurich for friendlies against Portugal and Greece, although injury restricted him to 45 minutes, as a second-half substitute, in the latter.
It now seems likely that El Shahat will miss out on Russia this summer following the announcement on Sunday of Egypt’s preliminary squad for the upcoming warm-up matches against Kuwait and Belgium. Cuper named 29 players for the double-header, with El Shahat a notable absentee.
Egypt play Kuwait in Kuwait City on May 26 before travelling to Belgium to take on the world’s No 3-ranked side on June 6. Contesting their first World Cup since 1990, they open their Group A account against Uruguay nine days later, then face hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
El Shahat, 25, has been a revelation at Al Ain this year. Signed initially on loan from Egypt's Misr El Makkasa, he scored seven goals and registered nine assists in 11 Arabian Gulf League appearances as Al Ain won a first top-flight in three seasons.
On Thursday, El Shahat was voted the fans' player of the year at the Arabian Gulf League Awards, while he was also named in the league's best XI. Having signed a permanent contract at Al Ain in March through to 2021, he played an integral role in the Garden City club's march to a seventh President's Cup crown.
El Shahat will on Tuesday bring down the curtain on his 2017/18 season, when Al Ain take on Qatar’s Al Duhail in Doha in the second leg of their Asian Champions League last-16 tie. The UAE side are trailing 4-2 following last week’s opening encounter at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. El Shahat sat out that match through suspension.