With the CAN (African Nations Cup) only two weeks away, Goal.com spoke to one of the most respected journalists on the African scene to get his insight regarding the continental competition.
Medhat Shalabi is the presenter of one of the most viewed sports programmes in Egypt - 'Masaa Al Anwar' - and won the Best Sports Presenter of 2009 accolade for his work on the show.
Egypt are one of the favourites to take to title in Angola, and the Pharaohs will be keen to make amends for missing out on a World Cup spot in a dramatic play-off against fellow north Africans Algeria. Shalabi had a great deal of interesting things to say when Goal.com’s Arabic site caught up with him.
Goal.com: What do you expect from the Egyptian national team in the 2010 African Nations Cup?
Shalabi: Egypt are always favorites to win this competition, we have won the last two editions of this cup and if we can overcome the shock of not qualifying for the World Cup we can be the champions again.
Goal.com: People say that African players who play in Europe are always tired and they do not give their maximum for their national teams, so Egypt can win the CAN due to the high number of locally based players. But they do better in the tournaments than in World Cup qualifying, often missing out on the global tournament. What are your thoughts on this?
Shalabi: You can't underestimate the achievements of Egypt. If the CAN was very easy then you would find that many different countries would win it and not only Egypt.
Goal.com: How can Egypt qualify for the World Cup?
Shalabi: We need to have successful professional players in Europe, so that they can handle the pressure of big matches and will in turn react in the right way to incidents during the match.
Goal.com: What do you expect from Algeria in the 2010 World Cup?
Shalabi: They will be out in the first round. England is favoured to win the World Cup and the USA showed a big improvement during the Confederations Cup... although I will support Algeria because I am Arabic, but we have to be rational.
Algeria may have displaced Egypt to qualify for the tournament in South Africa, but they find themselves in a group with England, USA and Slovenia, and it will certainly be a struggle for the Fennecs to progress from the first round.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com