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EXCLUSIVE: Recent Egypt friendlies were never really in the works
Following several announcements from Egypt’s football association (EFA) claiming deals to play friendlies, KingFut has learned that several of these purported agreements were never really in place.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source familiar with the EFA and its dealings says the friendlies supposedly scheduled against South Korea, Australia, and Burkina Faso were all “fake.”
“There was never an agreement for those matches.
“Burkina Faso for example… they already agreed a month ago to play Nigeria in France,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the EFA was claiming as recently as last week that it was scheduled to host Burkina Faso on October 12.
The source says several agents were tasked with finding friendly matches for Egypt, but the EFA never acted when presented with opponents.
“When it came to settling contracts and terms, they went cold.
“Every time they were told a team was available they went silent for days, only to re-emerge when the team was no longer available. They didn’t want a match.
“One person who was supposed to sign the contracts even left to Makkah for Hajj,” the source tells KingFut.
The source also revealed that Canada was one of the most recent teams available for a friendly against the Pharaohs, but the EFA’s unresponsiveness ended with the Canadians accepting a different offer instead.
“[Egypt] lost Canada too… they’re playing Ghana in the U.S. instead,” the source said.
Presentation Sports spat
According to the source, contributing to the mishandling of Egypt’s national team schedule is an ongoing spat between the EFA and one of its official sponsors; advertising agency Presentation Sports.
“I’m told the EFA and Presentation Sports are fighting.
“It was unclear who should fit the bill and arrange the matches, since Presentation Sports have the rights.
“Either way, they wasted a lot of time intentionally. They didn’t want a match. They just wasted everyone’s time.”
More of the same, but who’s to blame?
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it should.
Flashback to Egypt’s coaching search earlier this year, in the wake of its failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. The EFA repeatedly laid claim to high-level negotiations with then-Ivory Coast manager Hervé Renard over the Pharaohs’ vacant post, only for no deal to be struck and for Renard to explicitly deny that the EFA even contacted him.
It’s difficult to pin-point who exactly within the Egyptian football scene is at fault; i.e. whether those in-charge were never actually serious about arranging friendlies, whether Presentation Sports was asleep at the wheel, whether it was manager Héctor Cúper that resisted, or a combination there of. Either way, the fault lies within the EFA’s entire process, as KingFut’s source explains.
“During previous times, other than when there was chaos or genuine lack of funds, [Egypt’s] FA moved pretty fast,” the source says.
“All are culpable… it seems the [Egypt] FA may need some pressure put on them,” the source added.
No more friendlies in 2015
The source also exclusively revealed to KingFut that the EFA is now considering not playing any friendlies for the rest of the year. However, it’s unlikely that it would ever formally announce such a decision due to negative backlash.
“I’m told the decision now is no more friendlies til the end of the year. I doubt the public will like that,” the source said.
Egypt’s only officially scheduled matches between now and year’s end are its home-and-away 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying playoff.
Egypt’s opponent for that playoff – either Sierra Leone or Chad – will be determined in October.
Considering the Pharaohs’ nearly three-decade drought from the World Cup and that they’ve never beaten Sierra Leone, the team would probably benefit from a friendly match or two prior to that November showdown.
Also, if Egypt was to stand any chance of being ranked high enough to be a top seed in the group stage of World Cup qualifying, should they make it that far, they would need to play (and win) friendly matches. The mishandling of its October friendly slate likely rules that possibility out.