Hassan Shehata could become the man entrusted with rebuilding an ailing Egypt side, with local media reporting that he is a frontrunner to succeed Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.
Widely considered as one of the best ever men to coach Egypt’s national team, Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy has held talks with Shehata to take over following an embarrassing Nations Cup campaign under Aguirre, various reports said.
Local sports website FilGoal.com also reported that former Ahly coach Hossam El-Badri, Egypt’s all-time top scorer Hossam Hassan, Maqassa boss Mido and Masry manager Ihab Galal are in the running to occupy the hot seat.
Shehata raised eyebrows after steering Egypt to an unprecedented hat-trick of straight Nations Cup triumphs in 2006, 2008 and 2010, with his formidable side easing past some of the continent’s heavyweights including Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Aguirre was dismissed right after Egypt bowed out of the Nations Cup at the last-16 stage on home soil after conceding a late goal to lose 1-0 to South Africa earlier this month.
An outpouring of criticism ensued, with many calling for an Egyptian boss to take charge. Such calls are common following similar failures, with fans usually citing the past glories of Mahmoud El-Gohari and Shehata.
El-Gohari was in charge when Egypt made their second World Cup appearance in 1990, holding then European champions the Netherlands to a famous 1-1 draw in their group-stage opener. He also steered the Pharaohs to the 1998 Nations Cup title in Burkina Faso, although they were not originally deemed favourites.
Argentinean coach Hector Cuper also qualified Egypt for the World Cup last year and led them to a runners-up spot at the Nations Cup in 2017 but his cautious strategies did not go down well with the demanding supporters, who called for more entertaining displays.
A vow by Cuper’s successor Aguirre to introduce the type of entertaining football the fans crave was not reflected on the pitch, with Egypt struggling to breach the backlines of even unfancied opponents.
But even if Shehata returns to the dugout, many have doubts that he could replicate the sort of enterprising displays Egypt produced a decade ago.
“Shehata’s generation included many stars that helped him mold an impressive team. The current crop can never do that,” said one football fan on Facebook.