Egypt coach Shehata hits out at ‘jealous’ critics

Hatem Maher , Friday 21 Jan 2011

Egypt's coach Shehata lashes out at critics, doing little to improve his frosty relationship with local media

Hassan Shehata

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata took a fresh swipe at his critics, branding them jealous and questioning their credentials just few days after the team won the Nile Basin friendly tournament at home.

The Pharaohs beat Uganda 3-1 in the final of the newly-launched tournament last Monday, but their victory did little to dampen worries over the team’s prospects to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations (ACN) in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Egypt, the winners of the past three ACNs, are languishing at the bottom of Group G in the qualifiers, with one point from two games after a surprise draw at home to Sierra Leone and a stunning defeat by minnows Niger.

Shehata, feeling the heat of what would be an unthinkable failure should the team not reach Africa’s premier tournament, said he did not want to be distracted by constant criticism.

“Our current position in the qualifiers indicate that we may not reach the Nations Cup,” Shehata, who is widely regarded as the best coach in Egypt’s history, said in a lengthy television interview.

“On paper, we could miss out on the Nations Cup but I fully trust my players to overcome this situation. They are no strangers to such obstacles.

“But there are some people who intervene in my job, including media personnel and former players. All those people are not authorized to criticize me like that; they just represent themselves and say their own point of views.

“They express their opinions but they are not insiders, they don’t know the difficulties we face. Some of them are jealous of my position.”

Shehata, who was hailed as one of Egypt’s footballing greats after guiding the team to three consecutive Nations Cup titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010, rarely accepts media criticism.

He famously said that he was advised to contact Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to ask him to stop the flurry of criticism he received in the wake of Egypt’s 1-0 defeat at Niger in October.

“Throughout the past six years, I endured unprecedented problems. Some people work behind the scenes to disrupt our work,” Shehata added without elaborating further.

Egypt’s next competitive game is a crucial one at South Africa, who top Group G in the Nations Cup qualifiers.

The seven-time African champions need to beat South Africa in March to boost their chances of avoiding a stunning failure to qualify for the Nations Cup.

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