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Egyptian National Team

FEATURE: Was Javier Aguirre the right choice for Egypt?

After much speculation, Mexico’s has become the new Pharaohs’ head coach, succeeding Hector Cuper. KingFut’s Ahmed Khalil takes an in-depth look at the new manager.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) have been searching for a new boss following Egypt’s disappointing performances at the World Cup, which saw them lose all three of their games to Uruguay, Russia, and Saudi Arabia and finish bottom of Group A.

Cúper was named the Pharaohs’ manager in March 2015 and went on to coach Egypt in 38 games, guiding them to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years as well as making the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final. Despite their initial success, Egypt have not won a game since their dramatic World Cup qualifier against Congo in October 2017, drawing three and losing six since then.

Cúper’s contract was up for renewal at the end of the World Cup, and although he was in talks with the Egyptian FA over a possible extension before the start of the global showpiece, his team’s below-par performances saw him lose his job.

Egypt regressed under the tutelage of a coach who neither understood tactics nor the mere task of deploying players in their rightful position, which was rather embarrassing for a country famed for producing exquisite and winning tacticians. Following Cuper’s departure, the EFA insisted that “important names” were being considered for the job.

OPINION: It’s been a long time coming, but where did it all go wrong for Egypt?

How was Aguirre picked?

A committee consisting of EFA board members Magdy Abdel-Ghany, Essam Abdel-Fatah, and Hazem Emam was put together to assess all the managerial options. They released a shortlist of four names to replace the Argentinian, which included Jorge Luis Pinto, Quique Sánchez Flores, Javier Aguirre, and Vahid Halilhodžić. There were also talks of bringing in an Egyptian coach with being a clear front-runner.

Football agent Nader El-Sayed had also revealed that the EFA have contacted Arsenal legend and Belgium national team assistant coach Thierry Henry for the vacant Egypt job. However, Henry released a series of tweets, denying such contact.

The EFA have decided to hire former Mexico and Japan national team manager Javier Aguirre, with the 59-year-old signing a four-year contract. Aguirre’s contract with the Pharaohs will run until the 2022 World Cup, and will see him earn a monthly salary of $120,000.

Aguirre will become the first Mexican to take charge of the Egyptian national team, and only the second North American after American Bob Bradley. His first game in charge will be against Niger this September in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Javier Aguirre’s Resume:

The 59-year-old managed Mexico in two World Cups, 2002 and 2010, and was eliminated from the Round of 16 in both tournaments. His only silverware with the Mexican national team was the Gold Cup in 2009.

Aguirre then took charge of the Japanese national team in August 2014, but his contract was terminated on February 2015 after he was allegedly involved in a match-fixing incident during his time at Real Zaragoza. His most successful stint came between 2002 and 2006 with CA Osasuna, when he guided them to a fourth-place finish in the league, which earned them a spot in the Champions League.

The Mexican also took charge of Mexican sides Atlante and Pachuca, Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza, and Espanyol, and Al-Wahda of UAE. He has also won the Mexican Primera División with Pachuca and UAE President’s and League Cups with Al-Wahda during his managerial career.

Why was Hossam Hassan the fans’ favorite to take over the national team job?

Hossam Hassan was the leading candidate to succeed Héctor Cúper as the Pharoahs’ head coach. The former international forward who currently manages Al Masry led them to a top-four finish in the league for three consecutive seasons. Hossam had a big effect on the Green Eagles since joining them, as he was able to a lead a young unskillful team battling relegation that previous year to a top-four finish the next season.

His experience in international football includes working with the Jordanian national team in 2013 where they impressed and finished third in their group beating Uzbekistan in a playoff, however, they did not make it to the World Cup as they eventually lost to Uruguay despite an impressive draw at home.

Photo: Al Masry

Managing Egypt wouldn’t have been his first time leading an international team. From past experiences, it is proven that local managers were able to guide the national team for greater success, for example; Egyptian legend Mahmoud El-Gohary, who managed to guide Egypt to their first World Cup appearance in 56 years – the 1990 edition in Italy. Another example is the general of African football, Hassan Shehata, who led Egypt to three successive titles at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Egypt became the first African nation to achieve such record. As a result of this, the Egyptian team were ranked as high as 9th in the FIFA World Rankings.

OPINION: Why don’t African football teams hire local managers?

Hossam Hassan remains as the national team’s top scorer in history. From his long journey with the national team, he understands the team play of the Pharaohs and what it means to fight for your nation. Finally, from Hector Cuper’s past involvement with the national team, he was well known for his rigid defensive tactics which led to the Pharaohs’ downfall at the World Cup. However, Hossam Hassan could have changed that around, as he is well known for his attacking type of play which the national team could have benefited from that a lot.

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Was Aguirre the best fit?

In my opinion, Aguirre had the most impressive CV among the choices being considered, and crucially, he lowered his wage demands for Egypt.

On the pitch, he seems like a good fit for international football. He’ll motivate his players, organise the defense, and move towards a slightly more aggressive style. He’ll try to gain back the team’s identity of possession football, but he’ll prevent them from becoming too stale, like they were against Uruguay.

On the other hand, there are potential problems. His prickly personality can turn people off, and it can become even worse given the locker room’s inherent tension between Al Ahly and Zamalek players.

Some say he lacks tactical flexibility or imagination, and while those criticisms could be true, they are probably less relevant in the international sphere, where teams don’t get to practice tactics too thoroughly anyway and simpler plans can often succeed. The international arena is very tricky; teams usually only get one chance every two years at winning trophies, and even one bad game can derail that. Still, Javier Aguirre could be a blessing for Egypt.

What do you think about the appointment of Aguirre? Was he the right man for the job, or should it have been someone else like Hossam Hassan?

Since I was a kid, I dreamt of being a sports journalist. My journey began a year ago when I created my first sports news page on Facebook, called "Sports Unlimited News" and from there on my passion for sports journalism grew stronger. Now, here I am a Sports News Reporter and Features Writer at KingFut.com where I will strive to add value and learn as much as I can.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. El Chico

    August 6, 2018 at 6:40 PM

    The answer is: No.

  2. Mark A

    August 6, 2018 at 8:14 PM

    We are masking everything that went wrong by making Cuper our escapegoat and saying that he doesn’t know how to manage.
    The footballing system in Egypt needs an overhaul but instead we will get a new manager who will do ok but then he will eventually fail to meet our expectations and we will be back saying it is all the manager’s fault and the EFA for choosing him. I hope I am wrong anyways.

  3. Adam Alfi

    August 6, 2018 at 8:26 PM

    Never Hassan. Ever. Ever in the history of ever should he become the National Team coach. He can nearly handle the egyptian league. You want him to manage the likes of Salah and Elnenny? Seriously. Nope.

    • Mo

      August 7, 2018 at 10:23 PM

      Likes of elneny? Bro please, no one knows why elneny is still playing for Arsenal

      • Mohamad

        August 7, 2018 at 11:50 PM

        @Mo. not sure that statement is true anymore, he has proven himself to be quite effective for them last year. He’s no star that’s for sure but he is a dependable player.

  4. Henry AbuO

    August 7, 2018 at 10:07 AM

    I’m excited about this coach, Mexico played very open and attacking football in the 2010 World Cup. From a personality stand point he seems very tense. We should get a much clearer understanding if he’s the right guy after the Niger match in September.

  5. Khaled Abdou

    August 7, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    With my respect to Hossam, in my opinion, the foreigner manger is more capable of handling the professional players for time being. Hossam is very promising manager.
    It’s my own opinion..

    • Mo

      August 7, 2018 at 10:24 PM

      I agree

  6. Mohamad

    August 7, 2018 at 11:53 PM

    From what i’m reading he’s best trait is motivating the players, well the problem is he speaks spanish and we speak arabic. So his speech will lose effect due to both the difference in meanings of the language and that it will be translated instead of coming directly from him. If you look at his history he’s coached Mexico and club teams in spain, they all speak spanish. Japan he coached for only a short time and the Japanese people are more professional than others so motivating them is not as important.

  7. Gogi

    August 8, 2018 at 2:33 AM

    Why the hell does everyone here think that a local coach couldn’t do the job? Being a national coach doesn’t require any magic. You simply need to choose the best two dozen players in the country, be charismatic enough to lead them and earn their respect and just let them play football according to their strengths. Egypt is a country of over 90 million souls. The pool of coaches with appropriate licences is easily sufficient. Hossam Hassan has proven himself as a brilliant coach and many of the players grew up watching him play. I don’t think he’d have a hard time gaining respect and trust from them. But heck, if they don’t like H. Hassan they’d still have plenty of choices in the country, well-known names as well as random folks who nobody knows about but who’re doing a great job as coaches in the Egyptian League system. Even Iceland, a country of 300.000 people, manages to get competent local coaches. They are math teachers or have/had other random occupations but hold the highest coaching licences and have a proper understanding of the game.
    Why do so many Egyptians think that an Egyptian can’t do the job but some random foreigners from the US and Mexico can? Inferiority complex?
    Having said that, at least Aguirre is a competent coach and will let our players play football. I’m also confident he’ll choose the right players to do that and dump the losers which the weirdo Cúper preferred for reasons only he himself knows. Probably without any reason at all. I’m fairly optimistic that we’ll get back on track and can finally ENJOY seeing our team play football again.
    Still, all that hickhack about choosing our coach was completely unnecessary.

    • Mohamad

      August 8, 2018 at 8:24 PM

      Who said that we think a local coach can’t do the job? I think your frustration should be aimed at the EFA not at the media and fans, i’d much rather have an Egyptian coach if we’re not bringing in a proven elite or a young manager who is about to become elite. But here we are with the current choices. I hope Aguirre gets us back to the meaningful position and dribbling identity that we are known for rather than the Italy impression Cuper was trying to do.

  8. Henry AbuO

    August 9, 2018 at 7:37 AM

    I’m a big fan of Hossam. I just think his international reputation will hinder the likes of big stars such as mohammed el nenny, mohammed salah, koka, etc. The Egyptian league really isn’t the strongest league there is, and I’m not too sure we want to move to the “Egyptian” mind set just yet. We just qualified for the World Cup and got embarrassed. I believe having a big name
    Coach will help stimulate the players confidence with our upcoming games. As a team, once we start performing top form individually and our league is in top shape then and only then would i consider scouting a local coach for our team. This isn’t the Barclay premier league where every time exemplifies fine tactics and disciplined coaches. In which, every coach could be a candidate for the national team.

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