Egypt Jittery Over Qualification, Coach Comes Under Fire

Ghana’s World Cup opponents are growing jittery over their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup amid demands for Argentinean manager Hector Cuper to resign despite leading the group with two matches left.

The jitters in the Pharaohs camp has sparked hope among Ghanaians that the North African could falter to hand the Black Stars the advantage for the tournament in Russia.

The Egyptian national football team’s goalkeeper coach Ahmed Nagi is defending Argentinean manager amid concerns over Egypt’s qualification to the 2018 World Cup.

“Cuper is a very democratic manager. He makes all his staff participate in all the team’s detail. But at the same time, he rejects any interference in his work,” the 59-year-old former Ahly goalkeeper coach told a radio show on Wednesday.

The Argentinean has become vulnerable to criticism for his defensive tactics and squad choices after a shocking away 1-0 defeat to humble Uganda in the World Cup qualifier on 31 August.

However, thanks to Mohamed Salah’s early home goal in the same week, Egypt is still topping group E of the African qualifier with nine points, two ahead of Uganda and four ahead of Ghana, while Congo has lost hope as it lies at the bottom with a solitary point, with two games remaining for each.

“Cuper cooperates with everyone and he is in continued contact with Egyptian Football Association (EFA) chairman Hani Abou Rida and his assistants,” Nagi added.

The Congo showdown on 8 October at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium is the most anticipated qualifier, as a victory could give the qualifying ticket to the Pharaohs, even before a final exam against bitter rivals Ghana in Accra.

Cuper announced last week that he is open to any decision by the association regarding his future with the team, insisting that ‘mutual trust’ is essential for the Pharaohs to continue their World Cup bid successfully.

Some reports suggested that Cuper has been promised by some EFA members to continue leading the team until World Cup 2022.

The seven-time African Cup of Nations champions Egypt are bidding for their third-ever World Cup appearance to end 28 years of deprivation from the prestigious tournament.