Shehata no longer coach of Egypt
The Egyptian Football Association has parted company with coach
Hassan Shehata, a day after a shock 0-0 draw against South Africa
all but ended any hope of defending its African Cup of Nations
”The two parties agreed on ending contract of the coaching
staff for Egypt national team under the leadership of Hassan
Shehata,” the association said in a brief statement on its
Egypt has won the last three editions of the African Cup of
Nations under Shehata, who was the country’s longest serving coach
and who took his team to a high of ninth in the rankings.
But in recent months, the team has struggled to score goals and
faces the very real prospect of failing to qualify for the
tournament for the first time in 33 years. Its ranking has
meanwhile fallen to 36th.
Sunday’s draw left Egypt bottom of Group G with just two points
from four games, a full six points behind leader South Africa with
two games to go. It also stands little chance of qualifying as one
of the best second-place teams.
The poor showing by one of Africa’s dominant teams left fans
angry, with many taking to social media sites like Twitter to vent
their frustrations. Another 500 gathered outside the offices of the
FA on Monday calling for Shehata’s resignation and that of all the
Shehata has been rumored for months to be on the way out partly
due to his team’s performance but also because he was a close ally
of former president Hosni Mubarak who was forced from office Feb.
11 following 18 days of anti-government protests.
The former star striker nicknamed ”the master” led rallies for
Mubarak in early February and has never been shy about flouting his
close connection to the former ”presidential family.”
During his six years in charge, Mubarak’s two sons Alaa and
Gamal often showed their support with heavily publicized visits to
Shehata and his players during training sessions for African
campaigns. They also traveled abroad with the team for important
”It gives me power. I am not going to deny it,” the
62-year-old Shehata said last year. ”But they don’t interfere in
the team’s business. They are patriots who rally behind the
He became a star across Egypt during his tenure, appearing on
billboards and in advertising campaigns hawking everything from
cell phones to an American bank.
But as the political winds shifted, the normally confident
Shehata sensed his days were numbered. He seemed increasingly
frustrated in recent weeks with the constant criticism of him and
the links fans were making between the team and Mubarak’s National
”I’m very unhappy with what is going on. The atmosphere is
corrupt and it is very difficult to work in such circumstances,”
Shehata told a local newspaper in May. ”This corrupt atmosphere is
mainly down to some media personnel and football analysts, who have
a very negative influence on Egyptian football.”
Angry fans were quick to play up the Mubarak link on Twitter as
word spread about Shehata’s departure.
”News Alert, Egyptian president to receive the national team in
Sharm el-Sheikh,” one tweet read, in a reference to the Red Sea
resort city where Mubarak has been hospitalized and under detention
since April on charges of conspiracy in the killing the protesters
during the uprising and of corruption.
Not everyone has blamed Shehata, however, with former
association head Youssef el-Dahshouri accusing what he described as
a group of aging players being the sole reason for the team’s
”Dissolving the coaching staff will not solve the problem,” he
said. ”The team will be doomed to fail in any tournament because
of the players’ age.”