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Arsenal star Elneny ‘refused to play against Kenya’

Egypt’s midfielder Mohammed Elneny reportedly refused to play against Kenya during the recent 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match in Nairobi.

The Arsenal player was part of the Pharaohs contingent for this all-stakes clash against hosts Harambee Stars which ended in a 1-1 draw at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

But he was not chosen to start the match by coach Hossam El-badry and remained glued on the bench for the entire game.

Reports from Egypt now suggest Elneny was offered an opportunity to play against Kenya during the game but refused to warm up at half-time.

Ahmed Abdelbaset, a journalist specialist in the Egyptian Football Association (FA) and the national team news claims that Elneny’s ‘rebellious’ behaviour was the reason he didn’t take part in the game.

“After the first training camp under Hossam El-Badry, Elneny asked not to be called up again, because he wasn’t starting,” Abdelbaset told OnTime Sport TV.

“He was constantly on the bench during the previous qualifying matches, and even though he was promised to start he was still benched against Kenya.

“El-Badry asked Elneny to warm-up during the half-time because he was planning on subbing him on but he refused and told him he wasn’t going to play,” he added.

When asked why he elected to start Elneny on the bench, El-Badry explained it was because the Arsenal star only trained once with the team prior to the game.

However, there have been widespread speculations that there were issues behind the scenes and that his decision wasn’t purely tactical. Especially because Aston Villa’s Trezeguet and Ittihad Jeddah defender Ahmed Hegazi both started the game, even though they also trained once with the team.

Additionally, the Arsenal midfielder wasn’t even brought on as a substitute despite the fact that El-Badry made two changes in the middle of the pitch, when Egypt was struggling to cope with Kenya’s pressure, and put on Omar Gaber and Amr El-Sulya instead.

Abdelbaset adds that Elneny has refused to play against Comoros on Monday despite El-Badry wanting to start him but Senior players including Mo Salah are attempting to sort things between the pair.

Egypt will host Comoros on Monday, March 29 in the final matchday of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, the same day Kenya will be facing Togo in Lome.