CAIRO: Egypt coach Hassan Shehata lashed out at Amr Zaki and Shikabala shortly after excluding the Zamalek duo from next week’s 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.
The three-time African Cup winner accused the influential pair of deliberately missing international duty, saying they are far from committed to the Pharaohs.
In a sarcastic manner, Shehata said “Shika and the Zak seem to be suffering permanent injuries” every time they receive call-ups to Egypt.
The highly-rated tactician is convinced that both players came up with the same “phony excuse” ahead of Egypt’s 6-3 victory over DR Congo, and once again before the qualifying match with Sierra Leone.
"Shikalaba and Zaki were not named for the DR Congo game due to injury," Shehata told Egyptian radio. "The medical staff confirmed they were unfit and recommended that they rest for ten days.
"However, we were flabbergasted to see them featuring for Zamalek only few days later. So the question is, were they bluffing us?"
Playmaker Shikabala and striker Zaki took part in Zamalek’s 2-0 win over Petrojet in the Egyptian Premier League, a match that took place only four days after Egypt’s friendly with DR Congo.
Both stars played the whole 90 minutes and scored one apiece.
"When I inquired about their availability yesterday [Sunday], I was told that Zaki sustained a shoulder injury and Shikabala would be examined by a doctor," Shehata said.
"They seem to be suffering permanent injuries every time they receive call-ups for international matches.
"We can’t be fooled by such phony excuses. Those who don’t want to play for Egypt just need to be straightforward."
On the other hand, Zaki strenuously denied Shehata’s side of the story, stressing that he is fit to play against Sierra Leone.
"I would never avoid an Egypt call-up. I owe the national team a lot," he told FilGoal.com. "I really don’t know anything about the shoulder problem Shehata mentioned.
"I did suffer a groin strain ahead of the DR Congo match, that’s why I was taken off during Zamalek’s league opener with Harras Hodoud.
"Egypt’s chief doctor Ahmed Maged asked me to rest ahead of the DR Congo game and when I sat down with Shehata, he told me that the Sierra Leone meeting is what matters to him.
"Shehata also asked me to take part in Zamalek’s game against Petrojet, because he doesn’t pick players who don’t participate in their clubs’ matches.
"I didn’t leave the training camp that preceded Egypt’s game with DR Congo despite the injury. I stayed to support my teammates and even attended the match.
"I have always been loyal to my country."