Egypt look to rekindle glory days in Gabon
January 12, 2017 by Sahr Morris Jnr
Egypt return to the Africa Cup of Nations after a seven-year absence with a new generation looking to rekindle the glory days of three consecutive titles before the 2011 uprising exhausted Egyptian football.
Watching football has for decades been a favourite past-time for millions of Egyptians, especially with the national team who won the title in 2006, 2008, and 2010, making them one of the strongest teams in Africa and the Middle East.
But after 2011 this passion was rolled back among many fans due to memories of violence and was dimmed in a faltering economy.
“Egypt returns to the tournament under totally different circumstances,” Karim Ramzy, the managing editor of the independent Yallakora website, told AFP.
“Egypt’s national team has drastically changed in comparison to the team which last participated in the tournament,” said Ramzy.
The tournament kicks off on January 14 in Gabon with Egypt drawn in Group D alongside Ghana, Uganda and Mali.
Out of the 23 players called up by Argentinian coach Hector Cuper, 19 are playing for the first time in the tournament, including Roma star Mohamed Salah.
Conditions drastically changed in Egypt amid the political and security turmoil that has engulfed the country since the January 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
These disturbances impacted football, reflected in the team’s absence from the tournament in 2012, 2013, and 2015, despite winning seven tournaments before, a continental record.
The national team does not receive the same level of support as it did under Mubarak, whose sons Gamal and Alaa used to visit training sessions and attend matches.
“Political and economic challenges” led to a reduced interest in football, said Ramzy.