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Egyptian National Team

Cuper: Bad luck in finals? I don’t believe in witchcraft

Hector Cuper

Photo: Aminah Babirye

Egypt national team manager Hector Cuper reflected on media and fans pessimism for the 2017 African Cup of Nations final match between Egypt and Cameroon as the coach previously lost five finals in a row with different teams.

The Pharaohs set sights on the eighth African title when they face four-time AFCON winners in the final match on Sunday in Stade d’Angondje. Egypt reached the final game after beating Burkina Faso on penalties, while defeated the Black Stars 2-0. Argentinian coach Hector Cuper will also battle to claim his first silverware since he left Argentina.

The 61-year-old coach led the Egyptian team to unexpected victories in the tournament and managed to reach the final match without losing any matches while conceding only one goal during the championship.

In spite of losing five finals in a row before with Mallorca, Valencia and Aris against teams like Barcelona, Lazio, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Panathinaikos, Cuper is not thinking about the past and only focused on the current situation with the national team.

“I count Huracán and Inter Milan when we knew that if we won on the final day we would win the league, but didn’t,” he said humorously increasing the number to seven. “I don’t believe in witchcraft or curses or strange things like that, And there are finals and finals. We lost two of them on penalties the Copa del Rey in 1998 and the Champions League in 2001, we had nine players in the Copa del Rey, and we lost to great teams,” he explained. “So jinx, bad luck? If you’ve only got bad luck, you don’t get there at all.”

Uefa’s coach of the year in 2000, spoke about the difference between expectations during the time when he was first hired by the Egyptian Football Association and reaching the final AFCON match. “They asked me to qualify for the African Cup of Nations and play it; they didn’t ask me to win it.”

After relocation to seven countries, Cuper found himself so far in Egypt and it looks like the national team found a manager they have been looking for since the legendary Hassan Shehata, who led the team to win three consecutive AFCON titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

“I needed a shock, a jolt: a big objective, a World Cup, a real competition. I found that here: this feels like it did when I went to Mallorca in 1997: it fits. It feels good,” he illustrated. “Fundamentally, what I like is to train. Football is a passion: if you don’t have that, there’s something missing. Football gives me life, oxygen; it always moves me, motivates me.”

In addition to being a hardcore football fan, Abdelrahman is a communications enthusiast who works in marketing, advertising, content creation and PR.

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