CAIRO - Defending champions Egypt
have conceded defeat in their bid to retain their
stranglehold on the African Nations Cup title, electing to use a
combination of their under-23 and under-20 teams to play their
last two qualifying matches.
Egypt have two points from four matches in Group G and
although they still have a slim mathematical chance of reaching
the 2012 finals they have admitted they have no realistic hope.
Instead their Olympic team, coached by former Germany-based
defender Hani Ramzy, will complete the team's last two fixtures
in Sierra Leone next month and at home to Niger in October.
The youngsters will be captained by Ahmed Hassan, who
continues his bid to become the world's most capped
international. The 36-year-old midfielder has won 175 caps for
Egypt, three shy of the 178-game record set by Saudi Arabia
goalkeeper Mohammed Al Deayea between 1990 and 2006.
Egypt won an unprecedented third Nations Cup title in a row
at the last finals in Angola in 2010. The north African country
has a record seven continental titles, three more than Ghana and
Cameroon, the next most successful countries.
Egypt's 2012 qualifying campaign started with a surprise
home draw with Sierra Leone and an even bigger shock when they
lost in Niger. South Africa, who top the group, beat them in
Johannesburg in March and drew 0-0 in Cairo in June, after which
long-standing coach Hassan Shehata was fired.
Ramzy, who won 125 caps himself, was not on a shortlist of
possible replacements issued by the Egypt Football Association,
who are to choose between recently fired U.S. coach Bob Bradley,
Francisco Maturana of Colombia and Zoran Filipovic, the former
Yugoslav striker and national coach of Montenegro.
The 2012 Nations Cup is being co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea
and Gabon, starting on January 21.
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