Egypt ready to face 'heavyweight' teams ahead of the 2018 World Cup, says coach Cuper
Mahmoud Elassal, , Sunday 25 Mar 2018
Despite a 2-1 loss to Portugal in Friday's friendly, coach Hector Cuper is upbeat about Egypt's performance and its likely chances in the World Cup

Following their strong performance against Portugal in Friday's friendly ahead of the 2018 World Cup, Egypt coach Hector Cuper said the Pharaohs are ready to face any of the heavyweight teams they may encounter in the gigantic competition.

A delightful goal from Mohamed Salah put Egypt on the verge of a famous friendly win over European champions Portugal, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to head home twice during stoppage time, one with the help of video replay.

However, despite Egypt's 2-1 loss, Cuper said the overall performance was encouraging for both players and supporters.

"Despite losing the game, there is a feeling of pleasure with the Egyptians, because the players did their best during the game," Cuper told a television programme late on Saturday.

"Such friendlies always improve your ability to face heavyweight teams," he said. "No one wants to lose, but it was a tough lesson for the team that in the big games we have to make fewer mistakes.

"Our intention is clear to everyone, and we can compete with the heavyweight teams."

Cuper said that the mood of the fans in reaction to the match was also enouraging.

"I admire the fans' delightful reaction to the team's performance against Portugal. The players worked hard," the Argentinean boss said.

The seven-time African champions, who have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 28 years, will be in Group A alongside hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.

"All the games will be difficult, so we have to avoid mistakes. We didn't achieve anything yet, because there's a long way to go," Cuper said.

He also commented on his position as national-team coach, saying he was enjoying the role.

"I enjoy coaching this collection of players. They have good facilities," Cuper said. "I am happy in Egypt. Let's wait to see what happens when we extent the contracts."

Egypt will face Greece in Zurich on Tuesday, before playing Kuwait, Colombia and Belgium in their final training camp just prior to the World Cup finals in Russia.

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