Coach Hassan Shehata threatens to quit Egypt

Hatem Maher, Friday 13 May 2011

In an interview with Al-Ahram daily, Egypt coach Hassan Shehata reveals the thought of resigning from his post has crossed his mind due to the ‘the corrupt football atmosphere’ in the country

Hassan Shehata
Unhappy Hassan Shehata may leave Egypt after glorious seven-year reign

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata has revealed that he is considering handing in his resignation after growing increasingly frustrated with what he called ‘the corrupt football atmosphere’ in the country.

The highly successful tactician is widely regarded as the best coach in Egypt’s history after steering the Pharaohs to unprecedented success in African football.

Under his guidance, Egypt displayed a hugely attractive brand of football to win three consecutive African Cup of Nations titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and earn plaudits with two memorable performances against heavyweights Brazil and Italy in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

But Shehata’s calibre failed to exonerate him from blame after the team made a disastrous start to their 2012 Nations Cup qualifying campaign, collecting just one point out of possible nine to risk missing out on the tournament they have won a record seven times.

The 61-year-old rarely accepted media criticism and he made his resentment even clearer after he was vilified by many for standing by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted following a popular 18-day revolt in February.

“I’m very unhappy with what is going on. The atmosphere is corrupt and it is very difficult to work in such circumstances,” Shehata said in a lengthy interview with Al-Ahram daily on Friday.

“This corrupt atmosphere is mainly down to some media personnel and football analysts, who have a very negative influence on Egyptian football.

“Regardless of the fact that my contract will run out in 2014, I’m seriously thinking about handing in my resignation.

“I already turned down two offers from the Kuwaiti and Omani national teams lately but I did not want to make a fuss because I’m committed to my work with Egypt.”

Shehata also said he considered leaving Egypt following the 2010 Nations Cup triumph in Angola, which made up for the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Egyptian Football Association (EFA) chairman Samir Zaher recently said he would keep faith with the former Zamalek forward even if Egypt missed out on next year’s Nations Cup finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

“I know that Zaher trusts me, but our position in the qualifiers may change many things,” Shehata added.

‘Very difficult’

Shehata admitted that Egypt’s task to qualify for the Nations Cup is very difficult following their draw at home to Sierra Leone and defeats away to Niger and South Africa.

They next host South Africa in a must-win game in June at Cairo Stadium.

“We should win our remaining three matches and wait for the other results which will determine our fate. It is not impossible but it will be very difficult,” he commented.

Shehata also responded to criticism over his choices of several ageing players who have underperformed of late, including Ahly’s playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika.

“I can’t just offload a player who helped Egypt win three or two Nation Cups and also helped his club win a lot of trophies,” he said.

“Great players need to be supported when they suffer a dip in form, and that’s what I did with Abou-Treika and [defender] Wael Gomaa for instance.”

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