Challenge of reaching World Cup is my life's toughest stress: Egypt coach Cuper

Eslam Omar , Monday 2 Oct 2017

The Argentinean said ongoing criticism has been taking its toll, but he is still confident of beating 'powerful' Congo in a decisive World Cup qualifier on Sunday

Egypt coach Cuper (Photo: Ahram Sprot)

Egypt coach Hector Cuper has spoken about the stress he is facing in seeking to take the national team to the World Cup, particularly in the face of ongoing criticism of his decisions.

The Argentinean coach made the comments on Monday during a press conference to lay out preparations for the much-anticipated 2018 World Cup qualifier against Congo, taking place at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Sunday.

"The challenge is stressful, of course. I am taking hypertension medicine due the stress I suffer from the continuing criticism. Life is full of stress, but the challenge of reaching the World Cup is the toughest stress I have faced," the 61-year-old tactician revealed.

However, despite the pressure, Cuper said he is confident that Egypt is well prepared for the upcoming clash with Congo.

The Pharaohs have kicked off a training camp in Cairo, with the squad completed by the joining of Ahly players, after playing their first leg of the African Champions League away is Sousse Sunday losing 2-1 to Etoile du Sahel.

"Congo is a good team combining players with great individual skill, but we are ready for the game," Cuper confidently stated.

"We have studied Congo well. We will be focusing on their weak points, but we are not sure about their squad for the next game, especially since they may call up new people," the Argentinean added.

Egypt need to win in Alexandria to secure their first World Cup ticket since 1990, and their third ever. They are lying top of group E with 9 points, two more than Uganda and four more than Ghana, while Congo have lost hope, sitting at the bottom of the table with a solitary point.

Egypt should officially qualify if they beat Congo in Alexandria and second-placed Uganda stumble against Ghana in the same round.

Cuper, who has become vulnerable to criticism due to squad choices and defensive tactics since the stunning 1-0 away defeat to Uganda in the fourth round on 31 August, renewed his previous statements about his future with the team.

"I am committing with the team until the World Cup, but if the fans or the Football Association want my departure, I will definitely leave," he said.

"We may play the Congo game with two strikers. Some say the team is lacking character and it's my mistake. I apologise for that, but the positive thing is we already won 75 percent of the games we have played."

Cuper has refused to comment on the Ghana game, scheduled for 6 November, asserting that he is only focusing on the Congo game at the moment.

The coach will have to do without three key midfielders due to injuries: Ahly's Abdullah El-Said and Hossam Ashour, and Ittihad Jeddah's Mahmoud "Kahraba" Abdel-Moneim.

"Ahly's Saleh Gomaa may be the substitute for El-Said, and we will be deciding the other two substitutes soon. Etoile striker Amr Marey could be one of the choices too," he concluded.

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