Two key members of the Egypt team who featured in the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup have hailed the impressive performance by the African champions in this year's edition of the tournament, despite the current generation suffering a disappointing first round exit.
Samir Ibrahim and Yasser Rayyan told FIFA.com their opinion about the performances of the Pharaohs in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup a decade on from their own experiences in Mexico. Ibrahim was the top scorer of his side with two goals in the FIFA Confederations Cup Mexico 1999 and the former international defender said that Egypt surprised everyone with their form this year.
"Before the tournament people did not have any expectations considering the tough group we were in and everyone expected that we will lose against Brazil by a huge score and that will be followed by a natural loss from the world champions Italy and our only hope to have a positive score was against USA."
"But then the team surprised us and gave an amazing performance against Brazil and our expectations went up and when they beat Italy we were just over the moon and everyone expected that we will reach the semi-finals for the first time in the Confederations Cup," said Ibrahim about Egypt's narrow 4-3 defeat against Brazil and 1-0 win against Italy. "However, our dream was shattered by USA which everyone believed would be the easiest game," he added.
Ibrahim draw a comparison between the 1999 class and the 2009 team who claimed the first ever victory for Egypt in two participations in the FIFA Confederations Cup with their win against Italy. "Up until the Italy game I would have to admit they were a lot better than us," he said.
"But after that loss against USA I would say we are pretty much in the same boat. Yes they did give an impressive performance against Brazil and they beat Italy but it is the end that counts and they didn’t go through to the next round and neither did we! But again I have to give credit where it is due, they displayed some very good performances and despite what many would say I believe their game against Brazil was even better than the one against Italy," he added.
Rayyan also believes that both generations have exprienced a number of similarities with Egypt drawn in tough groups in both editions of the FIFA Confederations Cup. "Back in 1999 we were in a tough group too with Bolivia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia and we made some good results drawing in both our first games and when it came to the last match, we needed a win or even a draw to qualify to the next round but unfortunately we lost to Saudi Arabia by a big scoreline (5-1) which nobody expected."
"This year’s team did the same they played some amazing football in their first two games and they were this close to qualifying but they got too confident and they under-estimated their opponent which I believe is what we did too back in 1999. I have to honestly say that this year’s team is better than we were," he said.
"I actually have to admit that this is probably the best generation in the history of Egyptian football. They won two African Cup of Nations titles and they beat the world champions Italy at the Confederations Cup which is something that will be recorded in the history books forever."