Mortada Mansour (Photo: Al Ahram)
Outspoken President of Zamalek sports club Mortada Mansour has heavily criticized Hector Cuper, the Argentinian manager of the Egyptian national team, after what he described as the 'failure' of the Pharaohs in their first World Cup since 1990 years.
"We all watched the Russia game. I told you from the outset that Cuper’s leadership would be fruitless while all Egypt was cheering for him. I told you he is a failure," stated the 66-year-old elected chairman of the famous Cairo-based club in his typically forceful tone, in a video statement on Wednesday.
The 100 million strong population of the Arab country, known for its football obsession, had high hopes for their team in the 2018 World Cup competition currently taking place in Russia, but were stunned by 1-0 and 3-1 losses against Uruguay and Russia respectively, which assured their early return home.
"Cuper intentionally ignored tens of talented players like Awad, Ginnesh, Moemen Soliman, Walid Soliman, Hossam Ashour, Moemen Zakareya and many others," Mansour said, listing many local players whom he sees as more capable of representing Egypt.
The Argentinean is repeatedly criticized for both his defensive tactics and for the lack of strikers in his squad selections, despite the fact he led the North African team to end their 28-year absence from the pitch of the most prestigious sports event worldwide; a feat largely dependent on the individual brilliance of Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
"Mohamed Salah can’t play in all positions. Cuper over-stressed him. It's the easiest round of the tournament. We are better than Uruguay. And what is team Russia? Have you even heard of them before?”
Salah scored the country's only goal in the two games from a penalty, the first goal since Magdy Abdel-Ghany's 1990 penalty against Netherlands which still brings him fame and media attention.
"Don't try to claim the artists delegation jinxed the result, and blame them for the failure," Mansour cautioned, accusing Cuper of “focusing only on advertisements,” referring to a controversial trip sponsored by a state-owned telecom company. Ongoing debate surrounds the visit, with Mansour adding that "Cuper and the players spent the time they should have been preparing on media and advertising appearances."
With support from the country's president boosted by media campaigns, the Egyptian Football Association repeatedly announced before the tournament that their target was to make it to the round of 16.
World Cup failure is still the trend of conversation and social media threads in Egypt, while the patriotic advertisement campaign remains present on billboards and television channels.
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