Queiroz not making AFCON promises and it's not going down well with Egyptians

Hatem Maher , Friday 7 Jan 2022

When Carlos Queiroz said his primary task was not winning the African Cup of Nations, Egyptian fans got him wrong.

Carlos Queiroz
Egypt s coach Carlos Queiroz (foreground) cheers his players as Tunisia s coach Mondher Kebaier (background) looks on during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 semi-final football match between Tunisia and Egypt at the 974 stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha on December 15, 2021 (AFP)

The demanding supporters simply thought Queiroz was not concerned with launching a serious title bid for the record seven-time African champions.

"There is no single coach that signs contracts with specific targets about competitions," the Portuguese boss told a news conference, a few days before Egypt's departure to Cameroon to take part in the Nations Cup.

"We cannot make agreements based on the wish of God, it's not that simple.

"The main achievement of my contract and my responsibility when I made this agreement with the (Egyptian) federation was the World Cup qualification. I don't want any doubts about that."

Egyptian fans have their own doubts, however.

Queiroz might be simply, and frankly, discussing his agreement with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), which in fact stipulated that any contract renewal is subject to the Pharaohs making it to the World Cup finals in Qatar.

That does not necessarily mean the former Real Madrid boss is not after a record-extending eighth Nations Cup triumph, which would mark his first ever title with a senior national team. Who doesn't want to make history?

But for many supporters, Queiroz's statement is a demonstration that he is not aware of what he is up to.

"How come a coach just disregards the pedigree of the Egyptian national team and suggests that we are not there to reclaim our crown?" said one Twitter user, referring to a 12-year drought as Egypt had last won the title in 2010.

"Yes, we care very much about the World Cup but this does not mean that we should give up on the Nations Cup."

Queiroz's New Year wish complicated things further. Again, he failed to allay any concerns over how serious he is with regards to the Nations Cup.

"May it be a Happy New Year, with peace, success and the best health. And in particular for Egypt, may it be also a World Cup year. Now time to continue our work and keep our focus towards our goal. Wish you all the best!" he said in Twitter.

His Twitter handle would be abuzz with notifications, of course. Many of the replies were not so welcoming, with a handful of users rebuking him for not mentioning the Nations Cup.

Other supporters were even enraged by an online poll that asked users whether they prioritise winning the Nations Cup or qualifying for the World Cup.

"We should be going for both targets. We have no other options, we are Egypt!" said one fan.

But Queiroz projects the image of a man who won't be distracted by such talks.

A World Cup expert, it's easy to see why the 68-year-old is firmly focused on lifting Egypt to the Qatar finals. Should he fulfill that target, he will have a completed a record fifth successful qualification campaign.

Egypt will learn their fate in March when they play a decisive two-legged playoff against a yet-to-be-determined opponent -- likely to be one of the continent's top guns.

Before then, they will negotiate a Nations Cup group that includes Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan.

"We are ready to take off and enjoy our journey to the African Cup of Nations. Now please fasten your seat belts with your best ambitions and commitment, towards our Goals and Dream," Queiroz said.

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