Egypt
© Foto-net

Champions of Africa 

An African side has yet to win a FIFA Confederations Cup crown, but Egypt are quietly confident of changing this statistic. Yet despite claiming a record six CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2008, the Pharaohs will arrive in South Africa among the competition's underdogs.

Over the last four years, the Egyptians have been Africa's most consistent team and underlined their dominance of the continent with a flawless Ghana 2008 campaign. For many observers, this can be attributed to the nation's successful grassroots system and their continued investment in youth football.

The North Africans do have players with experience of claiming a FIFA medal, with a second-placed finish to show from their 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign in Argentina under Shawky Gharieb. Two years later, the Pharaohs also won the CAF African Youth Championship in Burkina Faso, this time with Hassan Shehata as coach. Today, Shehata is the much-revered coach of the senior side, and Gharieb his assistant, while players from their respective youth team form the backbone of the Egypt we will see in South Africa.

The result is a dressing room in which the harmony between coaches and players has forged a terrific team spirit. Nevertheless, Egypt's failure to qualify for Germany 2006 should act as a reminder that they have a nasty habit of failing to replicate their continental form when it comes to global competitions.

Shehata, however, is determined to consign such problems to the past, and the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the world's elite is sure to have his players buzzing with excitement. The coach has also succeeded in assembling a balanced squad with an effective blend of youth and experience. They have already succeeded in reaching the final phase of qualifying for South Africa 2010, and aided by the continued dominance of Cairo giants Al Ahly in African club football and the emergence of new stars such as Amr Zaki and Mohamed Zidan, the Pharaohs appear stronger than ever.

Coach: Hassan Shehata
Stars: Amr Zaki, Mohamed Aboutrika, Mohamed Zidan