The qualifying stages for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ produced some memorable battles and no little drama, as the Pharaohs can readily attest. After finishing the final round level on points and goal difference with arch-rivals Algeria, a play-off was held on 18 November 2009 in Sudan to decide who would go to South Africa. It turned out to be Algeria’s night, with a 1-0 win sending the Desert Foxes through at the expense of the reigning African champions.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Egypt have graced the finals of the FIFA World Cup on two occasions, both in Italy. The first occasion came in 1934, when they were the sole African team in the competition. However, with the tournament then employing a purely knock-out format, a 4-2 defeat to Hungary was enough to send them packing. In 1990 they qualified again and were drawn in Group F alongside England, Netherlands and Republic of Ireland but finished bottom of their section after two draws and a 1-0 reverse to England.
The current crop
The Pharaohs are currently enduring some very difficult times. Having won the previous three editions of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (2006, 2008, 2010), Egypt’s failure to even qualify for the 2012 tournament after finishing bottom of a group containing South Africa, Niger and Sierra Leone came as a huge shock. Their elimination meant they would miss the continental showpiece for the first time since 1978, and also that the reigning champions would not even get the chance to defend their crown – a first in the tournament’s history. This failure unsurprisingly led to the resignation of national team coach Hassan Shehata.
The key players
No one could ever say Egypt is short on talent. The national team has an array of stars at its disposal, including midfield maestro Mohamed Aboutrika and Africa’s most-capped player, Ahmed Hassan. There is also a slew of other household names like Amr Zaki, Mohamed Zidan, the experienced Essam Al Hadari in goal and the top goalscorer of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Mohamed Nagui.
Coach: Bob Bradley
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2001 (Third place)
Former stars: Abdulrahman Fawzi, Mahmoud Al Khatib, Hani Ramzi