Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, the coach said it is now time to show courage and strength in the aftermath of the tragic events that saw 74 people murdered.Bob Bradley appears fully committed to helping Egypt reach the World Cup for the first time in over two decades.
After the tragic events that saw 74 people lose their lives following an Egyptian league match on Wednesday, Bradley realized his role as Egypt's national team manager has significantly become more important as the country looks to move forward.
"As I said when I first came here, I said becoming the head coach of Egypt is a great honor and also a great responsibility because of what an important period it is," Bradley explained exclusively to Goal.com early Friday morning. "During the aftermath of a tragedy like this, it makes it all the more significant the strength that you show."
Bradley, the former U.S. men's team manager, lives in greater Cairo with his wife and has appreciated the nation's culture. He acknowledges that there is a strong tie between soccer and the country's morale following months of political turmoil.
"There's such an important link between the hope that this country has for the future. The desire to have a democracy. There's a link between that and the hope that exists for the national team and the possibility of qualifying for the World Cup," said Bradley.
Due to the respect of the lives lost, Bradley would not comment further on his role as Egypt's head coach. Like everyone else in the country, the 53-year-old's thoughts have been with the families of those were killed.
Bradley attended a service in Cairo's Sphinx Square less than 24 hours after the tragedy occurred at the end of an Egyptian league match between rivals Al-Masry and Al-Ahly at Port Said. It was a gesture highly respected around the world.
"There were people that met in Sphinx Square yesterday. We felt it was important to be there with the people who lost their lives and the families," said Bradley. "It's important to share that moment with the people here as we all look for ways to move forward."
He added, "In this important time, we are all together trying to help"
Bradley was scouting Zamalek's home match at the Cairo international stadium when the riots took place after Al-Masry's 3-1 home victory over Al-Ahly. He received the news at halftime.
Prior to the meeting between the two sides, he was told that the history between the team's supporters have often been tense but he said no one could have predicted what had happened. Bradley spent the entire night watching TV to get a better understanding of exactly what went on inside the Port Said stadium.
The team's star trio of Mohamed Barakat, Mohamed Aboutrika and Emad Motaeb have retired from the game, with Aboutrika adding to criticisms about security concerns.
"Is life this cheap?" Aboutrika said on the team's TV network. "People here are dying and no one is doing a thing.
"It's like a war.''
Bradley admitted that there could be a direct link between the events that took place and the current political climate in the country. Yet, he remained adamant that he doesn't have direct concerns over his personal safety.
Speaking to Goal.com last month, Bradley said he took several precautions before accepting the position, including multiple conversations with the U.S. embassy in Egypt.
"It's always the same message: It is a very important time in Egypt," Bradley said. "There are certainly times where there can be moments of political turmoil."
"That's how you grow. Not being afraid of new challenges," he added.
As for the future of the Egyptian Premier League, Bradley sees three possibilities. He believes the league will either be suspended or it will play games without fans in the stadium or the remaining season will be canceled.
With the league's future uncertain, Bradley conceded that it could have a big effect on the national team as its next match is an African Cup of Nations qualifier scheduled for late February. World Cup qualifying begins in June.
"Most of players in the national team pool, play in Egypt," said Bradley. "Whatever decisions get made in the coming days or weeks, will clearly impact the national team"