In emotional message, outgoing assistant coach calls on Egyptians to stand by national team

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 26 Jun 2018,
Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates with Marwan Mohsen and team mates after scoring their first goal (Photo: REUTERS)

Egyptian fans should get behind their national team and help the players heal their wounds after a poor World Cup campaign, the outgoing assistant coach said on Tuesday.

Expectations were sky-high that Egypt can at least reach the knockout stage on their first World Cup appearance in 28 years but they faltered badly, losing their three Group A games.

While Egypt lost 1-0 to Uruguay and were outplayed by Russia in a 3-1 defeat which ended their brief campaign, Monday's 2-1 reverse against Saudi Arabia was all the more painful given that it came against the group's weakest opposition.

Angry Egyptian fans, who were kept at arm's length by a security cordon, hurled obscenities at the team bus following the match in Volgograd and the team were given a lukewarm reception upon their arrival in Cairo on Tuesday, in stark contrast to the euphoria that preceded their trip to Russia.

Egypt coach Hector Cuper shouldered much of the blame, with many accusing him of sticking to an inefficient defensive approach which was key to lifting the team to the World Cup but was deemed not suitable to counter sturdy opponents such as the mighty Uruguay and the physically tough Russia side.

The Argentinean manager's contract has expired and the Egyptian Football Association is highly unlikely to extend it. Mahmoud Fayez, one of his assistants who has also acted as his interpreter since their arrival in March 2015, urged the frustrated supporters to stand by the team.

"We are apologizing for all the people that we made sad; thanks to all of you. But please, get behind your team, your players … support your sons," he said on Facebook.

"If your son falls down, you will not slaughter him. You will instead support him and he will rise again and succeed."

Some fans who were present in Volgograd said they were disappointed that the players did not salute them following the defeat by Saudi Arabia. However, the likes of star forward Mohamed Salah and winger Amr Warda said after the match they were grateful for the support of the fans.

"I want to thank everyone who travelled (to Russia) to support us … some people came from very far and paid a lot of money to stand by us. We hoped we would make you happy, but thanks God for everything," Elneny said on Twitter.

(For more sports news and updates and a special World Cup 2018 coverage, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

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