AHMED Elmohamady hopes Sierra Leone will do Egypt a favour this weekend and keep alive his hopes of securing an African Cup of Nations hat-trick.
The Sunderland winger will line up for Egypt against South Africa in Cairo on Sunday, knowing his country are in severe danger of not even appearing at next year’s finals.
Egypt are bottom of their qualification group after securing a solitary point from their opening three games and are desperate to get their campaign back on track with a win against Bafana Bafana.
But the Pharaohs are also reliant on Sierra Leone to aid their cause by taking points off second-placed Niger on Saturday.
If Niger win and Egypt fail to beat the group leaders, then their quest to secure a fourth successive ACN trophy will be over.
Elmohamady, who was on the winning Egypt side in 2008 and 2010, told the Echo: “This is a very big weekend for us.
“Like all of Egypt, I will be hoping Sierra Leone win on Saturday. And then we need to beat South Africa. We have not done well in the first three qualifiers and it will be hard to qualify from this position.
“But we have to give everything we can and hope that results go our way.”
Egypt’s qualification campaign was severely disrupted by the political turmoil which engulfed the country in January.
After drawing with Sierra Leone and losing to Niger in their opening two qualification games, the Egyptian league was suspended because of the unrest against President Hosni Mubarak.
It hampered the fitness of the bulk of the Egyptian side and they lost to South Africa in Johannesburg in March.
The Egyptian league has resumed now though and Elmohamady remains confident they can still qualify for January’s tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old is already eyeing next season with Sunderland after the Black Cats took up the option of converting his loan deal into a £2million permanent switch.
“I came here on loan, but I will be back full-time next season,” he added.
“The move is already done.
“I’m happy I came to Sunderland. I get on well with the players and the fans, so I am just looking forward to next season now.
“The speed of football in England is much faster than in Egypt. The Premier League is the best in the world and you have to be fast and strong.
“When you first come to the Premier League, it takes time to settle in, but I think I got better as the season went on.”