Egypt manager Hector Cuper says he has been forced to focus on winning friendlies – even though they were initially intended to prepare his squad – after he received intense criticism over the team’s January defeat by Jordan in a friendly match.
In a news conference on Friday, the ex-Valencia boss spoke about several issues regarding the national team, who are currently gearing up for the World Cup qualifiers with two friendlies against Guinea on 30 August and South Africa a week later.
The 1-0 warm-up loss to Jordan at Aswan Stadium was followed by two 2-0 friendly victories over Libya and Burkina Faso.
"After losing a previous friendly to Jordan I was subject to intense criticism despite it being just a friendly," Argentine boss Cuper said.
"After that, I understood that I should be focusing on winning friendly games, even though playing these games is only intended to prepare the team."
When asked about the lack of a break between successive seasons, Cuper said that although he can understand the instabiity of Egyptian football, he believes players should be given enough holiday time.
"As a national team manager I believe that players should be given a holiday, that's how it goes everywhere," Cuper said.
"But I can still understand the circumstances here in Egypt and the officials' decision to play the league soon even though little rest was given to players."
The upcoming Egyptian Premier League kicks off on September 15, nearly a month-and-a-half after the Egypt Cup final between Ahly and Zamalek on 8 August.
"When choosing new members for the squad, I always try to see how they would gel into my system and their capabilities to perform what I demand from them," Cuper said.
"The decision comes accordingly as to whether to include them afterwards. I would never call up players for the sake of just calling them up before snubbing them as has been rumoured.
"Even though Zamalek defender Ahmed Dwidar and Anderlecht winger Trezeguet have not been playing regularly of late, both can implement my tactics very well, that's why I recalled them.
"The same goes for Ahly striker Amr Gamal; despite not being at his best of late, yet we can see how he could benefit the national side."
When asked about the reasons behind the omission of Ahly skipper Hossam Ghaly, who was involved in a row with the Egypt management back in May, Cuper reiterated that his selections were due to technical causes.
"If Ghaly made the decision to retire internationally, then that is his decision and I totally respect it. I know my selections may not appeal to many, but I'm choosing those whom I see to be the best in their positions."
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