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Egypt coach Bob Bradley: Showing strength in the aftermath of a tragedy is imperative

Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, the American said it is now time to show courage in the wake of footballing violence which has left a nation in a state of shock

EXCLUSIVE
By Alex Labidou

Egypt coach Bob Bradley believes that the country must display strength and unity if it is to recover from the riots in Port Said on Wednesday night which claimed the lives of 74 people.

The violence erupted when Al-Masry fans invaded the pitch and set about attacking Al-Ahly players, officials and supporters.

The horrific scenes stunned the footballing world and Egypt remains in mourning, but Bradley believes that it is imperative that everyone now pulls together to begin on the road to recovery, admitting that, as national team coach, he also has a part to play in the process.

"As I said when I first came here, becoming the head coach of Egypt is a great honour and also a great responsibility because of what an important period it is," the former United States boss explained exclusively to Goal.com on Friday.

"During the aftermath of a tragedy like this, it makes it all the more significant the strength that you show."

The 53-year-old American lives in greater Cairo with his wife and believes that he has
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developed a good understanding of the national psyche.

Indeed, Bradley feels that there is a strong connection between football and the country's morale and that, after months of political turmoil and much bloodshed, qualifying for the 2014 World Cup is now of the utmost importance.

"There's such an important link between the hope that this country has for the future, the desire to have a democracy," he argued.

"There's a link between that and the hope that exists for the national team and the possibility of qualifying for the World Cup."

Out of respect for those who lost their lives in Port Said, Bradley would not comment further on his future as Egypt boss.

Like everyone else in the country, the 53-year-old's thoughts remain with those who lost loved ones on Wednesday night.

Indeed, Bradley revealed that he attended a service in Cairo less than 24 hours after the tragedy.

"There were people that met in Sphinx Square yesterday," he explained. "We felt it was important to be there with the people who lost their lives and the families.

"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 rioting broke out after Al-Masry's 3-1 home victory over Al-Ahly. He received the news at half-time.

Prior to the meeting between the two sides, he was told that the history between the supporters has often been tense, but he said that nobody could have predicted such a tragic turn of events.

Bradley admitted that he spent the entire night watching TV to get a better understanding of exactly what went on inside the Port Said stadium.

As for the future of the Egyptian Premier League, Bradley sees three possibilities: the Egyptian Premier League will be suspended; games will be played behind closed doors; or the entire season will be cancelled.

With the championship's future uncertain, Bradley conceded that whatever happens will have a major effect on the national team as the Pharaohs are due to play an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier later this month, while their World Cup qualifying begins in June.

"Most of players in the national team pool play in Egypt. Whatever decisions get made in the coming days or weeks will clearly impact the national team," he concluded.

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