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Football
Shehata and Egypt part company
Former player and three-time Africa Cup of Nations winner leaves after seven years as Pharaohs hit bottom of qualifying.
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2011 15:36

Hassan Shehata, who led Egypt to a record seventh Africa Cup of Nations title last year, has left the team after they fell to the bottom of their qualifying group for the continental tournament.

Shehata, who won the last three Cup of Nations and took the side to one of their highest FIFA rankings, parted company with the Pharaohs on Monday after overseeing a 0-0 draw with South Africa in Cairo the day before.

The result all but ended any chance of defending their crown in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January 2012, which would be the first time they have failed to qualify in 33 years.

Angry fans

The poor showing by one of Africa's dominant teams left fans angry, with many taking to social media sites like Twitter to vent their frustrations.

Another 500 gathered outside the offices of the FA on Monday calling for Shehata's resignation and that of all the board members.

Shehata has been rumoured for months to be on the way out partly due to his team's performance but also because he was a close ally of Hosni Mubarak, the former president, who was forced from office February 11 following 18 days of anti-government protests.

But as the political winds shifted, the normally confident Shehata sensed his days were numbered. He seemed increasingly frustrated in recent weeks with the constant criticism of him and the links fans were making between the team and Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

"I'm very unhappy with what is going on. The atmosphere is corrupt and it is very difficult to work in such circumstances,'' Shehata told a local newspaper in May.

"This corrupt atmosphere is mainly down to some media personnel and football analysts, who have a very negative influence on Egyptian football.''

Aging players

Not everyone has blamed Shehata, however, with Youssef el-Dahshouri, the former association head, accusing what he described as a group of aging players being the sole reason for the team's struggles.

"Dissolving the coaching staff will not solve the problem,'' he said.

"The team will be doomed to fail in any tournament because of the players' age.''

Meanwhile, Samir Zaher, head of the Egyptian federation, said in a statement that "the federation has full respect for the management team over the past six years in terms of accomplishments".

Egypt were ranked ninth internationally last June but have since fallen to 36th position.

The federation did not name a successor to Shehata. Two qualifying matches remain against Sierra Leone and Niger.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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