–Hector Cuper tips Nigeria, Egypt to battle for Group G ticket
Former Argentina football star and current manager of the Egyptian national team, Hector Raul Cuper is confident that the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Super Eagles hold the ace to land the AFCON ticket from Group G, ahead the likes of Tanzania and Chad.
He however reveals in this interview that his crew would henceforth begin to gather all relevant information on the Nigeria side.
Once again, accept our congratulations on your new challenge as coach of the Egyptian national team, the Pharoahs of Egypt.
Thank you very much my friend.
What is the reason behind your acceptance of this job?
I think Africa is a special continent where talents abound too just like Europe and South America. I chose to come here to work because I believe I can achieve great success. Besides, there are lots of great players here in Egypt.
You have never handled any African clubside nay national team. Hector, Do you realize you are on a hot seat?
I have always wanted to coach in Africa. I am not scared of coming to work here in Egypt. Aside that, I know Egypt is blessed with good players. I have seen these players before and I know what they can do under a very good condition. All they need is the right Manager to condition them into the champions that they used to be.
This job is regarded as one of the most dreaded jobs in the world , yet you opted to accept the challenge.
Yes, I know it is a tough job but I am ready for the challenge. I believe I can make Egypt better. The country is blessed with good players who can do well if given the right mentoring and training. I am happy to come to Egypt and I believe this team does well. We will train hard and prepare for the group matches. I will try and do my best to succeed here. I know working in Egypt will be tough when you consider their success but I will try and do my best.
Now that Egypt has been grouped alongside one of Africa’s football super powers, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Tanzania and Chad, do you think Egypt can finally break the jinx of missing out of three consecutive AFCON tournaments?
We will try and approach every game as it comes. There is no small team in Africa anymore because every team is developing now. We will go back and begin to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of our group opponents. We believe that will help Egypt to approach every match that we play in the group.
Nigeria equally missed out of AFCON 2015 just like Egypt while Tanzania and Chad are aiming to make a fresh start in African football. Do you think Egypt stand a chance here?
I think with our hard work and good training, we can finally make it to the Nations Cup after missing out from three previous competitions. All that we need to do is keep our focus and prepare well for our opponents. I respect all the teams in the group; they are all very good but I think this tough qualification for the competition is going to be between Nigeria and Egypt. I know Tanzania and Chad are good teams too but I suspect Nigeria and Egypt will fight for the group ticket. As for Tanzania and Chad, I believe they can also compete in the group because all the teams’ chances are equal.
Now that you believe the group is a two-horse race between Nigeria and Egypt, how do you intend to checkmate the Nigerian team?
I have already told the Egyptian FA that Nigeria will be our biggest problem but we will do our best when we come to play in Nigeria.
Do you agree Super Eagles have lost their fear factor as far as African football is concerned?
Well, I think Nigeria still have good players just like Egypt. Nigeria will be a very tough opponent in the group.
While Egypt can boast of Mohammed Salah, Nigeria is also blessed with lots of good players in Europe. How much do you know about these players?
I don’t know much about Nigeria football but I saw them at the last World Cup in Brazil and I realize that their players are good too. Henceforth, we will sit back and begin to analyse its professional players, the Nigerian team itself and the Nigerian league. Most importantly, we will look out for a lot of information about the Nigerian team and players.
You seem to have much interest in the Nigerian team. Stephen Keshi is back in the frame and he is saying it loudly that Nigeria would do everything to qualify from the group. How much do you know about the man called Big Boss by his countrymen?
I know he was a very good player in his playing days but I think right now he has a very tough challenge on his hands just like me. I understand that Nigerians are worried that he did not qualify for the last competition after winning it in South Africa 2013. They will be expecting him to qualify this time around and this comes with a lot of pressure. I know he is good coach but I just hope he can do a good job with the Nigerian team because I know that Nigeria has very good players.
Thank you for talking to Complete Sports Saturday.
NIGERIA vs EGYPT
17 MATCHES PLAYED 17
5 WINS 6
6 DRAWS 6
6 LOSSES 5
25 GOALS FOR 26
26 GOALS AGAINST 25
01 JAN 1960 NIGERIA 2-1 EGYPT INTERNATIONAL
24 NOV 1963 NIGERIA 3-6 EGYPT AFCON
14 JAN 1973 NIGERIA 4-0 EGYPT AFRICAN GAMES
14 MAR 1976 NIGERIA 3-2 EGYPT AFCON
08 OCT 1977 NIGERIA 4-0 EGYPT FIFA WORLD CUP
21 OCT 1977 NIGERIA 1-3 EGYPT FIFA WORLD CUP
15 MAR 1980 NIGERIA 1-0 EGYPT AFCON
20 FEB 1983 NIGERIA 1-1 EGYPT INTERNATIONAL
14 MAR 1984 NIGERIA 2-2[8-7] EGYPT AFCON
20 MAR 1988 NIGERIA 0-0 EGYPT AFCON
05 MAR 1990 NIGERIA 1-0 EGYPT AFCON
30 MAR 1994 NIGERIA 0-0 EGYPT AFCON
21 SEP 1995 NIGERIA 0-1 EGYPT AFRICAN GAMES
25 NOV 2002 NIGERIA 1-1 EGYPT INTERNATIONAL
12 JAN 2010 NIGERIA 1-3 EGYPT AFCON
14 APR 2012 NIGERIA 2-3 EGYPT AFCON