By James Agberebi:
Former Egypt international Mohamed Shawky has expressed confidence that the Pharaohs will finish ahead of Nigeria, Tanzania and Chad to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt have failed to qualify for three consecutive AFCONs (2012, 2013 and 2015) since emerging champions in Angola 2010.
In an interview with FIFA.com, Shawky posited that with the appointment of Hector Cuper, coupled with the calibre of players they have now, Egypt stand a very good chance of not only making it to AFCON 2017, but also Russia 2018 World Cup.
“African football has changed a lot,” he said. “There’s not much difference between teams now and everyone can beat everyone else. With the coach we have now (Hector Cuper) and the new breed of players, I think we’ve got a great chance of reaching the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup.”
He lamented Egypt's inability to qualify for the World Cup, despite dominating Africa for a long time.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” he commented. “The golden generation that won the Africa Cup of Nations three times only played in the South Africa 2010 qualifying competition, and everyone knows what happened in the decisive match against Algeria. It was our destiny not to go to the World Cup.”
The former Middlesbrough midfielder went on to give reasons behind Egypt's decline.
“Egyptian football went backwards after the revolution, but it’s surprising that it’s gone on for so long. A lot of players who’ve won things with the national team have retired or been sidelined and that’s had a negative impact.
“We had a good team led by Hassan Shehata, an experienced coach who knew how to handle all those stars. It affected us when he left, and you could say that everything has gone against us since then, which explains why we’re not as good as we were.”