Hassan Shehata and his players
Just a week ahead of the crucial tie against South Africa in the African Cup of Nations qualifier 2012, Hassan Shehata believes the Pharaohs will prevail and deliver what’s expected.
“We’ve always worn the colours of our nation with honour and shown great strength in our performances, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” the three-time African champion was quoted as saying on FIFA.com.
Egypt had a catastrophic start to their campaign, drawing at home 1-1 with Sierra Leone before being stunned by minnows Niger 1-0 in Niamey.
“I’m used to being criticized and blamed. I’ve been through it all before. All it does is increase my determination, because I really am very confident in my players. They’ve always come good when called upon,” explains the national coach.
The seven-time African champions are bottom of group G with just a single point, three behind leaders South Africa putting them in a must-win situation in order to bounce back on the right track.
“They’re serious, experienced opponents, and they got a big boost from their solid performances at the last World Cup. It should be a great match between two top teams. We know what’s expected of us, and we’re going to try our hardest to deliver the win our supporters are hoping for,” Shehata concluded.
The Pharaohs aren’t at their best as football has been at a standstill since the uprising on 25 January that forced former president Hosni Moubarak to step down.
The League has been suspended and will resume on 13 April while the domestic Cup competition has been cancelled, just like Egypt’s friendly game against the USA in February.
“Many people think that our lack of matches during this time will have negative consequences. I’m not so sure," Shawki Gharib, Egypt's assistant coach, told FIFA.
"There’s no doubt it will have had an effect on the players' physical condition, but there are solutions to that type of problem, such as planning more intensive training sessions. On the other hand, our boys actually needed a bit of a break after six years of continuous competition. We should see this situation as an opportunity," he added.
The technical staff will watch this weekend’s CAF inter-clubs competitions to check out Ahly, Zamalek, Ismaily and Haras El-Hodoud players before announcing the squad on Saturday.