CAIRO: Egypt coach Hassan Shehata said he was advised to contact President Hosni Mubarak to ask him to stop the flurry of criticism he received in the wake of the Pharaohs’ stunning 1-0 defeat at Niger.
The highly-successful coach came under heavy criticism after Egypt suffered a shocking loss to a team that is 145 places below them in the FIFA ranking in Sunday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Speaking to Modern Sport, Shehata launched a scathing attack on his doubters and hinted that he could have silenced them had he dropped Mubarak a line.
"Some people asked me to contact Mr. Mubarak to stop the chaos that happened after the match," the 61-year-old, who steered Egypt to unprecedented three consecutive Nations Cup titles, said.
"But the president is not free to intervene in such minor matters. We can handle those things ourselves."
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, are known to be enthusiastic supporters of Shehata.
The former Arab Contractors coach said last year he considered resigning from his Egypt post following the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup but made a U-turn after a meeting with Mubarak.
Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Sierra Leone in their opening Group G game of the Nations Cup qualifiers.
They were expected to easily make amends at the expense of tiny Niger but had a woeful night away from home that culminated in an embarrassing defeat.
Shehata was criticized for failing to tactically overcome Niger manager Harouna Doull, whose side secured a first-half lead and relentlessly preserved it to emerge winners.
His starting line-up choices and the second-half substitutions were costly,
many pundits believe.
"Those analysts are not attacking the Egyptian national team, they are targeting me," Shehata added.
"Some of those spiteful people manage struggling teams in the Premier League so how can they judge my work? They even can’t help their own teams.
"They are envious and jealous because I won three African titles in the past six years, during which I did not taste defeat in 18 matches."
Can’t beat anyone
Although Shehata looked furious at the media’s post-match reactions, he admitted that Egypt were out of sorts against Niger.
"We lost to a team that can’t beat anyone, I know that many people will talk about this comment but Niger are a team that can’t beat anyone," he said.
"We had a very very bad game, this is not the Egyptian national team and those are not my players."
Egypt are languishing at the bottom of their group with one point from two games.
South Africa, Egypt’s main challengers for the top spot, have four points while Niger and Sierra Leone have three and two respectively.
Egypt will next come up against South Africa, who missed the 2010 Nations Cup, in March next year.
"We are in a rebuilding process. We want to build a new team for the coming two Nations Cups in 2012 and 2013 and the World Cup in 2014," Shehata stated.
"I will ask the Egyptian FA to give me sufficient time to prepare for the South Africa game."
The winners of the 11 qualifying groups and the best two runners-up will reach the 2012 Nations Cup.