Egypt: Afcon 2017 not our target

The Pharaohs coach says his team's real ambition is to reach the 2018 World Cup and not winning the 2017 Afcon in Gabon

Egypt coach Hector Cuper has played down his side's campaign at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, insisting winning the continental diadem is not exactly their target.

The most successful team in the history of the Afcon with seven titles, the Pharaohs are set to make a return to the tournament following a seven-year absence.

The North Africans have been drawn in Group D alongside four-time champions Ghana, 1972 finalists Mali and East African side Uganda.

“The expectations here in Cairo [for the Afcon] are very high," Cuper told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“[This is] mainly due to the traditions that accompany us [for being] the nation with most African titles and the hunger of the fans after missing the last three editions.

"I repeat that our main goal is Russia 2018. I am saying this because if things were to go wrong in Gabon, all the good effort that has been done in recent period will be undermined. 

"Secondly, we have what it takes to win; we are not inferior to anybody but we will see what happens.

“I would be fine if we arrive in the final to continue my own tradition. 

"I have played many finals and I lost a lot, but I am sure Egyptians will forgive if we [fail] in Gabon.”

Cuper's side have gotten off to the best possible start in the African Zone last round qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with two wins in two games so far.

Article continues below

The Pharaohs, who last appeared at the World Cup in 1990, picked a 2-1 away win over Congo on matchday one, before handing Ghana a 2-0 defeat in Cairo. 

Cuper was appointed Egypt coach in March 2015.