• Cairo

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 7:17 PM
    Last Update : Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 7:17 PM

Egyptian Minister of Sports Praises Hossam Hassan’s Courage, Expects Fan Support in Friendly Tournament

(Arab World Press) - The Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, Ashraf Sobhi, expressed his full support for the national football team’s new coaching staff led by Hossam Hassan, praising him for his courage in taking on a friendly international tournament as his first task as a manager, despite limited preparation time.

Hassan, Egypt’s highest-ever scorer, took charge of the national team last month, following the sacking of Portuguese Rui Vitoria after the team’s elimination from the last 16 round at the African Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast in January. The team failed to achieve a single win in four matches.

Hassan, a former Al Ahly and Zamalek striker, will begin his tenure by leading the team against New Zealand on Friday in a friendly tournament that was added to the FIFA Series calendar.
The winner of the game will meet either Tunisia or Croatia in the final.

Minister Sobhi told reporters on Tuesday, “Of course, we support the national team. We support the national coaching staff. Captain Hossam Hassan has a major role to play and, as a ministry and as a minister, we provide the necessary conditions for success. Of course, it is very important for the Football Association to implement all the programmes set by the coaching staff.”

He added, “The tournament was in its early stages when we had a conversation with Captain Hossam. We asked if he would accept taking part in matches and big tournaments after just taking over the team. He could have been hesitant and said no, I’m still preparing. But he was very courageous and said that we must go and play in these tournaments. The results are not the primary concern right now because we are planning ahead. The aim for the Egyptian national team is the two World Cup qualifying games in 2024, in June and December, and the African Cup of Nations in Morocco in July 2025.”

Sobhi acknowledged that the Egyptian national team had struggled after winning the African Cup of Nations three times between 2006 and 2010, but that the performance had significantly improved since 2021, reaching the final of the tournament before losing on penalties to Senegal.

“Since 2021, the team looked different in the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. It was very good until we reached the final – the penalty kicks are a different story,” he said.

“We continue with this beautiful generation of international and local players and we support them. I am pleading with the fans in particular to support our team. Whatever happens, we insist on supporting the team.”

Sobhi said that the goal is to reach the 2026 World Cup finals, scheduled to be jointly held in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

He called on Egyptian fans of all affiliations to attend the matches and support the Egyptian team on home soil, after the tournament was moved from the United Arab Emirates last week.

The minister said, “We are telling the fans to come and watch the Egyptian product. Just as we go abroad, we also host tournaments at home. The Egyptian product is our Egyptian football, and we develop it as we develop other sports and games. The fans on Friday, while we are in Ramadan, will have a Ramadan evening.”

He concluded, “We plan and support our boys and support the coaching staff. There is no colour in the national team except three colours as I said before… and these colours are the flag of Egypt (white, red and black).”

The game between Egypt and New Zealand will be the first ever to be held at the new Egypt Stadium, which has a capacity of about 93,000, making it in the largest in Egypt and the second largest in Africa.