Egypt’s coach Hossam El-Badry says building a team that can endure the test of time for years to come was one of his goals when he took charge of training the Pharaohs.
He promised Egyptian fans more victories along the way.
El-Badry was appointed as Egypt's national team manager in September to succeed Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.
"I’d been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Whenever I passed by the Egyptian Football Federation’s headquarters, I prayed to God to get this job. It’s an honour,” the 60-year-old said in an interview with FIFA published late on Sunday.
“As a coach, I wanted it because it’s the culmination of my long coaching career. I just hope luck will be on my side in this difficult, albeit cherished, task.
“I shared my perspective and working methods during a number of meetings. I proposed targets that we need to achieve, foremost among which was qualification for the 2022 World Cup and the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, in addition to building a team that can stand strong for years.
“I have a good CV. I started my coaching career 32 years ago and have won 32 titles, 10 of which are as head coach (nine with Ahly and one with Merrikh),” he added.
The former Ahly player and coach El-Badry succeeded Mexican coach Javier Aguirre, who was sacked last July following the Pharaohs' shock elimination from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations' 16th round held at home.
Being appointed after five years of foreign coaches at the helm is not a worry for El-Badry who believes that Egyptians respect local coach.
“People here have faith that a local coach can lead them to glory. Our biggest achievements came at the hands of Egyptian coaches. The late Mahmoud El-Gohary took us to the World Cup after decades of absence and Hassan Shehata led us to three straight continental titles. This makes people optimistic seeing a local coach in charge.
“We recognise the importance of the task ahead of us and we want to lead the team back to glory. I wish to have everyone’s support, particularly that of Egyptian fans. I can promise them that we in the technical team will do our very best to achieve the desired success and fly our flag high whenever we compete,” the coach added.
Nations Cup revival
Under the guidance of El-Badry, Egypt were held to draws by minnows Kenya and Comoros in their opening qualifying games of the next Africa Cup of Nations last year.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) recently decided to postpone next year’s Africa Cup of Nations to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Egypt, record seven-time African champions, are due to continue their campaign in the Nations Cup qualifiers, but the final dates of the remaining matches aren’t fixed yet.
El-Badry is confident he and his players can overcome the bad memories of last year’s African Cup shock exit at home.
“I know that morale was very low after that elimination and I also understand that there was massive pressure surrounding this tournament. One challenge is to restore that confidence. I’m convinced we have mentally adept players, all of whom have experienced tough times like these. They all possess qualities that will help them come back stronger. I also have complete faith in their ability to shoulder their national team responsibilities and to regain the fans’ trust,” he explained.
“We’re definitely not happy with the draws we had in the first two qualifying fixtures, but we’re confident we’ll make the African finals,” he added.
World Cup chances
Under the guidance of Argentinean coach Hector Cuper, Egypt reached the 2018 World Cup finals for the first time since 1990, but the team was eliminated from the first round.
In the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Egypt were thrown into Group F along with Gabon, Libya and Angola and according to El-Badry the Pharaohs will take the qualification campaign step by step.
“It’s certainly a tough section and we can’t take any of our opponents for granted. We’ve recently seen that the gaps between African national teams have shrunk. Every team has progressed thanks to their overseas-based players. I recall that after we won the 2010 AFCON title, we failed to qualify for the next edition despite playing against so-called minnows.
“We currently have quality players based in Europe, so We’re first aiming to go beyond this group stage and reach the final round. Then we’ll be a step closer to realising our World Cup qualification dream and making all Egyptians happy,” he added.
Door still open for new players
Since his appointment, El-Badry repeatedly said that the national team’s door is always open for new players as he aims to build a team that will last for a decade.
“Our technical team has a system for monitoring all potential players. We evaluate both their technical and physical development. Every player stands a chance to be selected and I know very well that they all want to put on the national jersey. We’ve already given a chance to some young players and the door will remain open to everyone.
“We want to integrate the promising young players with the seasoned ones. In that way we hope to solve a difficult equation, which is to assemble a strong team that can last for a decade, while making sure that we reach and maintain a high level by adapting to [football’s] technical requirements,” the coach concluded.
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