Shehata: We must not fear Brazil
On the back of his side's painful 3-1 reverse against Algeria on 7 June in African Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Egypt coach Hassan Shehata has warned his charges not to be in awe of Brazil ahead of the pair's FIFA Confederations Cup clash in South Africa on 15 June.
"Egypt cannot afford to fear Brazil in our opener because if we enter the first match with such a feeling, we will show the same fear against the other teams," said Shehata, whose side have been drawn in Group B at South Africa 2009 alongside the Brazilians, world champions Italy and CONCACAF Gold Cup winners the United States.
"But we are also a big team now and should not be afraid of our opponents. We have managed to win the Nations Cup six times, including the last two in a row.
"We will not be in South Africa for fun. It is our duty to defend the reputation of Egypt and prove we deserve a place alongside the big boys and challenge them as well."
Shehata, who has guided Egypt to victory at the last two CAF African Cup of Nations since succeeding the Italian Marco Tardelli five years ago, said Egypt are used to facing top-class opposition: "In the past year we played friendlies against teams like Argentina, Spain and Portugal and draw confidence from representing Africa and being the champions of Africa."
Egypt are appearing at the 'festival of champions' for the second time in their history. At Mexico 1999 they drew with Bolivia and the host nation before crashing to a 5-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia.
The FIFA Confederations Cup dates all the way back to 1992 and is now widely considered as a dress rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup finals, which will be hosted by South Africa in June and July next year.