After an unprecedented show of dominance which saw Egypt annex the AFCON trophy on three consecutive occasions (2006, 2008 and 2010), Egypt slumbered into oblivion (partly due to political mishaps). Egypt just as they completed a hat trick of AFCON successes also followed suit with a hat trick of AFCON failures – they failed to qualify for the 2012, 2013 and 2015 AFCON.

Egypt, coached by the pragmatic Argentine, Hector Cuper were impressive at the 2017 AFCON hosted in Gabon, reaching the finals but losing 1-2 to Cameroon. Despite his huge efforts in ensuring that Egypt qualified for the 2018 World Cup (Egypt’s last appearance at the World Cup was in 1990), Cuper drew more criticism than praise from a large section of Egyptian fans and pundits.

The Egyptians craved for a more possessive and attacking brand of football. Cuper, however wouldn’t budge – he continuously served “boring and defensive” football to the unimpressed Egyptian folks.

After Egypt’s failure to qualify from the group stages of the 2018 World Cup, Hector Cuper was shown the exit and replaced by the Mexican, Javier Aguirre.

Javier Aguirre

Aguirre, learning from the “failings” of his predecessor, Hector Cuper took steps to bring on board a brand of football that will connect with the Egyptians. He said “I respect the way Cuper played, but my way is completely different and there will be a total change in the team’s view. We will form strong pressure on the opponent when we lose the ball”.

In Aguirre’s first three matches as Egypt’s manager, Egypt scored 12 goals and conceded once – a resounding evidence that Egypt had made great strides in returning to the attacking football its fans craved for.

Aguirre’s résumé is also noteworthy. Replacing Enrique Meza as the manager of Mexico in 2001, Aguirre led the Mexicans to the finals of the Copa America where they lost 0-1 to Colombia.

At Osasuna, again, Aguirre proved his worth. He was hired to save Osasuna from relegation in 2002, which he did! More so, in the 2004-05 season, Aguirre led Osasuna to the Copa Del Rey final where they lost 1-2 to Real Betis after extra time. And more excellent results followed – in the 2005-06 season in the La Liga, Aguirre led Osasuna to a record fourth placed finish.
Atletico Madrid, impressed by the results of Aguirre hired him as coach. Aguirre’s task in his first season was to get Atletico in a European competition which he did by leading them to qualification in the UEFA Cup. Again, more impressive results followed as Aguirre led Atletico Madrid to Champions League qualification in the 2008-09 season.

He returned to manage Mexico on 16th April, 2009 and guided Mexico to its fifth Gold Cup title on 26th July, 2009 and its first win against the United States outside of Mexico since 1999.
Aguirre, a man not alien to controversies has got Egypt dreaming again and as the Pharaohs begin their quest for an 8th AFCON title against Zimbabwe later today, there is genuine belief among the Egyptians that the trophy will remain at home!

Source: Baiden Gideon/