Egypt has pulled out of the inaugural African Nations Championship (CHAN), the Egyptian football association has announced.
The body said the decision was based on upcoming World Cup qualification that Cairo feels was more important that the tournament for home-based players.
The decision is certain to irk the tournament’s organizers, who hoped that Egyptian participation would create interest.
The reigning African Cup of Nations champions contemplated sending an under-20s quad to the tournament, but chose against doing so because the under-20 World Cu p is scheduled for Egypt only four months after the end of CHAN.
“The national team is gearing up for the rigorous World Cup qualification and at this time it just doesn’t seem worth it to participate in another tournament that could tire or injure our players,” an Egyptian FA official told panapress.
“So we decided to withdraw and will take any penalty that we will be given because of this,” the official added.
Egypt has participated in the inauguration of every African championship until this decision, which continues to put the six-time African champions in the international football spotlight.
Meanwhile, Goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary completed his controversial transfer to Swiss club Sion on Friday and is eligible for Sunday’s match, FIFA reported.
Hadary had been in a contract dispute with Egyptian giant Al Ahly over the transfer and was likely to face more legal action.
The Egyptian club can still bring a case against the international goalkeeper, who helped Egypt capture their second African championship in a row, over a breach in contract.
FC Sion offered Al Ahly 270,000 euros to buy out the Egyptian goalkeeper’s remaining two years of his contract.
Hadary walked out of Al Ahly and attempted to join Sion in February before returning to Egypt and apologizing. But he did not stop there and returned to Switzerland to attempt to join the Swiss club.