Winning the hosting rights to the 2019 African Cup of Nations will boost Egypt's chances of taking the prestigious continental title, says assistant coach Tito Garcia.
Egypt won a majority of votes at Tuesday's meeting of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) where the hosting issue was decided.
"Now we have a bigger responsibility. Surely, hosting the African Cup boosts our chances to win the title," Garcia told Sada El-Balad TV channel late Tuesday.
"Also we will be motivated to win the title and please our fans at home, despite the high level of other African teams," he added.
Egypt obtained 16 out of 18 votes, with only one vote going to sole rival South Africa, while the remaining voting country abstained.
Under new coach Javier Aguirre, Egypt have already booked a place in the 2019 African Cup of Nations as they now sit in second place with 12 points in Group J of the qualifiers. Rivals Tunisia (12) top the group on head-to-head goal difference.
With Aguirre at the helm, Egypt crushed Niger 6-0, defeated eSwatini 4-1 and 2-0 home and away respectively, and dispensed with Tunisia 3-2 via a stoppage-time strike from Mohamed Salah.
Preparations start by Niger test
The Pharaohs will play against Niger in the last game of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
"The Niger match will represent the start of our preparations for the tournament," the 44-year old assistant coach Garcia explained.
"We didn't establish a definite preparatory programme yet. We will need from 20 to 25 days to get the best preparation ahead of the tournament's kick off. Also, we will ask to play two or three friendly matches," he added.
The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place from 15 June to 13 July, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.
Egypt has already hosted four editions of the African Cup: in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006.
South Africa organised the 2013 edition.
The Pharaohs have won the prestigious competition seven times.
This year’s edition has seen major innovations, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams up from 16, and moved to a summer schedule instead of its former January-February calendar.
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