Orlando's Amro Tarek credits MLS move for Egypt prelim roster selection

Amro Tarek close up

TORONTO – It has been quite the year for Orlando City SC'sAmro Tarek.

Not only has he fit seamlessly into the backline of his new side, helping the Lions get off to a strong start in MLS, but the 26-year old defender has earned himself a spot on the Egyptian national team's preliminary roster for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer.

“It's a great feeling, a dream come true,” said Tarek following Orlando's 2-1 loss to Toronto FC on Friday night. “It was always my goal to be with my national team. To be on the preliminary roster for the World Cup is big for me. I hope I [get] to the World Cup.”

Though he was aware of the possibility, Tarek had to wait to find out whether Egypt's Argentine coach Hector Cuper had included his name on the roster when it was released last Sunday.

“They called me a month ago, said I was on the list of 40 players and they were going to minimize this list,” Tarek said. “So, I kept doing good with my team; was focused. And then the day they announced, I received a call from my agent and she told me I was on the list.”

In fact, Tarek, on loan from Wadi Degla SC of the Egyptian Premier League, was “expecting” to earn the nod.

“I’m playing in a good league,”  he said. “I did a good job, my team did a good job. That's why I have his attention.”

Tarek’s plan is coming to fruition and he credits his play with Orlando for putting him on Cuper’s radar.

“That was my goal,” said Tarek. “I wanted to leave the Egyptian league so I could have a better chance to be in the national team.”

A perennial powerhouse in African continental competition and with Liverpool FC's Mohamed Salah in fine form, The Pharaohs, will be looking to make a big splash in Russia this summer. They are in Group A with hosts Russia, as well as Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. 

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Egypt, Tarek has one previous appearance for the national team at the full international level, as a substitute in a friendly against Togo last March.

With the option to make Tarek’s move permanent, coach Jason Kreis and Orlando City have been pleased with the defender's contributions.

“Amro has been a really nice find,” Kreis said post-match Friday. “Really strong in all the matches. He provides a lot of things for us – speed in the box, strength in the air, ability to play with his feet. Couldn't be happier that he is now getting the opportunity to show himself on the international level.”