Cúper: Egypt only focused on Congo

Hector Cuper

Egypt manager Héctor Cúper has stressed that his team is only focused on Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Congo and nothing else.

“As always our goal is victory and all three points; and to stay on the path to qualification for the World Cup in Russia,” Cúper said during a press conference on Monday.

Asked if the team will have an eye on what happens Saturday when Uganda hosts Ghana, the Argentine was quick to answer.

“We have a lot of respect for Congo, as we do for all of our opponents, although we are concentrating on our own performance and how to approach the match. The Uganda-Ghana result will have no bearing on our approach against Congo. We’re concentrating only on how to get three points versus Congo. That’s it.”

Egypt would qualify for next year’s World Cup finals if it beats Congo, and Ghana gets a positive result in Uganda the day before.

The Pharaohs have been struck with a sudden spate of injuries in the lead-up to the match, with Al-Ahly pair Abdalla Said and Hossam Ashour, as well as Ittihad Jeddah’s Mahmoud Kahraba all doubtful to partake.

In their possible absence, Egypt has called up Al-Ahly’s Mo’men Zakaria, Ismaily’s Mohamed Fathy, and Smouha’s Hossam Hassan.

“In the coming hours we’ll start to determine who will be fully fit to be with the team and who won’t,” Cúper said.

The 64-tactician says El-Said in particular will be missed, but that others can do the job.

“It’s hard to quantify what Abdalla means to this team. He’s important to us. At the same time we can’t say that the other players are unable to fill the void and step-up in his absence. We’re confident in all the players’ abilities.

“There are still several days before the match. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

“We’ll try to maximize our time with the players this time around, as some of them arrived only a day or two before the match when we played Uganda,” Cúper added.

On the heels of several questions regarding job security, the presser concluded with a word of encouragement from a member of the media, to which Cúper deflected credit.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes that have been contributing to our campaign. People everyone including the media doesn’t know about. If we qualify it’ll be thanks to everybody, not just one person. But if we don’t, I have no problem shouldering all of the blame.”

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