|Apr 10, 2012 17:27:00||Africa|
Egypt midfielder and international caps world record holder Ahmed Hassan believes that the Pharaohs’ failure to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea was down to more than just the political instability that has hit his country since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
“It has definitely been a factor, but it’s not the main reason. We’re all part of this country and anything that goes on affects us, so naturally our concentration levels drop and we cannot remain focused when such turmoil is happening at home,” he said while speaking to Fifa World.
Hassan added that the ensuing ban on domestic league football that went on for close to four months complicated matters further but that overconfidence on the part of the players also played a significant role in Egypt’s shocking failure to qualify.
“But, again, I don’t believe that was the only reason. We also got over-confident and just thought it was going to be easy to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. By the time we’d realised our mistake, after the first two matches against Sierra Leone and Niger, it was already too late.”
“We’ve lived through one of the best eras in Egyptian football and it is only natural for any team that has done so well for so many years to go through a rough patch. After being on top for all those years, we simply underestimated our opponents, but we have learnt our lesson well and we have learnt it the hard way.”
The Zamalek player went on to discuss the arrival of former American national team coach Bob Bradley, who took over the Pharaohs following Hassan Shehata’s dismissal. According to Hassan, Bradley has had a positive influence and brought new strategies and players to the table.
“Bradley is a great coach and he has a vision. It is an extremely tough job to take on the Egyptian national team at this time and I sympathise with him, but he has been trying out new players and new strategies, which is a good thing for the team and for the future of Egyptian football,” he explained.
"I don’t believe in classifying coaches or anybody else for that matter based on where they come from. Regardless of whether he is an Egyptian or an American, I think every coach wants his team to do well for his own sake, since it’s his reputation that is on the line."