Egypt coach Cuper praises 'strong' Morocco after tough duel

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Monday 30 Jan 2017,
Football Soccer - African Cup of Nations - Quarter Finals - Egypt v Morocco- Stade de Port Gentil - Gabon - 29/1/17 Reuters

Egypt coach Hector Cuper said Morocco proved a tough opponent in Sunday's African Cup of Nations quarter-final, which the Pharaohs won 1-0 courtesy of a last-gasp goal from substitute Mahmoud Kahraba.

The seven-time African champions ended a 31-year wait for a victory over North African rivals Morocco, who were unlucky not to score in the second half after wasting several clear-cut chances in an exciting affair.

"The match was very, very difficult and complicated against a strong and resilient team," Cuper told the post-match news conference.

"It wasn't a defensive game as both teams managed to create opportunities. Morocco was a tough opponent throughout the match.

"I want to congratulate Morocco's coach Herve Renard, who built an excellent team for the future that is full of talents."

Egypt are the only side not to concede any goals in the Nations Cup, playing out a 0-0 draw with Mali before beating Uganda and Ghana with 1-0 victories.

The success continued with Sunday's 1-0 win over the Moroccans despite the absence of injured key duo Mohamed Abdel-Shafi and Mohamed Elneny.

Rookie defender Karim Hafez made his first start in the tournament but was repeatedly exposed on the left flank. He was replaced three minutes past the hour mark but Cuper stood by him.

"I have full confidence in him and I'm fully responsible for my choice," the former Valencia and Inter Milan coach said.

On Wednesday, Egypt will meet Burkina Faso in the semis in Libreville after the latter beat Tunisia 2-0 on Saturday.

"We must get ready for the semi-final very quickly because we just have 48 hours before the match," Cuper added.

Egypt won the last of their record seven titles in Angola in 2010 under coach Hassan Shehata. 

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