In reacting to a defeat, players and coaches usually choose between two distinct options: depression and defiance. Within seconds of Egypt emerging from their dressing room on Saturday, there was no doubting which camp they would fall into.
To describe the Pharaohs exuding confidence would be a major understatement. Such was their self-assurance, in fact, that a 3-1 defeat Serbia in their Group E opener couldn’t bring them to even contemplate failing to reach the last 16.
“We still believe in ourselves,” said their creative No8, Mizo. “And we will do enough to qualify. We just had bad some luck against Serbia, but what can you do about that? The goal for us remains the same. We have confidence that we will overcome this defeat, and we know the coach has confidence in us too.”
Badr Khalil leaves no-one in any doubt over that. Indeed, it is clear that Egypt’s unshakeable sense of belief stems directly from the bench, and their perpetually positive coach. And if Khalil was still smiling contentedly just minutes after his team’s defeat, it was simply because he saw it merely as a bump on the road towards near-certain qualification.
I’m still very, very confident that my team will be there in the last 16.
“I thought that we deserved something from the match, but I am not downhearted,” he told FIFA.com. “I think you will see why in the end because I’m sure that it will be Serbia and Egypt who go through at the top of this group. I’m still very, very confident that my team will be there in the last 16. I watched the match between Czech Republic and Kuwait, and it is my opinion that we are much stronger than both these teams. I really believe that.
“We play the Czechs in our next match and they are another strong type of European team. But I don’t think they will be as difficult for us as Serbia were. They also have some players already with yellow cards, which could become a factor. We will give them respect, of course, but our goal is to reach the semi-finals. And we are determined, at the very least, to get through from this group.”
Failure, it quickly becomes clear, is not a word in the Egyptian futsal alphabet. That’s why Mizo spoke only of his determination to prolong the Pharaohs’ FIFA Futsal World Cup adventure and reward not only the support of their countrymen, but their hospitable hosts.
“It’s a dream to be playing in this kind of tournament and we want to make our country proud,” he said. “And we are loving it here in Thailand. We have had a great welcome from the people here. The people are very friendly, always smiling, and the Thai fans in the stadiums have been great to us. We want to win our next matches for them as well as for our own supporters.”