National embarrassment! Egyptian fans ‘bitter’over AFCON ouster

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Egyptian football fans reacted with anger and sorrow on Sunday after the host team tumbled out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the second round following a lacklustre run marred by a controversy over alleged sexual harassment.

The defeat led to an immediate purge of Egyptian football officials, and took the gloss off a high-prestige event that Egypt had volunteered to host at short notice after Cameroon was stripped of the competition.

Fans had high hopes for a Pharaohs team starring national hero and Champions League winner Mohamed Salah. Egypt have won the cup a record seven times and were runners-up in 2017.

But after winning their three group games in unconvincing style, the host team were upset 1-0 on Saturday by a South African side that had scraped through to the knock-out stages with one win and two defeats.

Egyptian Football Federation (EFA) President Hany Abo Rida resigned hours after the defeat, simultaneously sacking Mexican head coach Javier Aguirre and the rest of the coaching staff.

He also called on the EFA’s board members to resign. Most have done so.

Fans had long called for an overhaul of the EFA over accusations of mismanagement. After Egypt’s unceremonious exit from the World Cup’s group stage last year, those calls increased.

“There is no plan, there are no players, no one knows how to defend or attack,” said fan Ahmed Mostafa outside the stadium after the loss.

“This is what the four games we played looked like. None of the players wanted to play, really. There is no spirit, nothing.”

“Egypt’s national team is also its national embarrassment … Plenty of Egyptians are basking in the team’s loss today,” tweeted Karim Zidan, a journalist, referring to a trending hashtag “Team of sexual harassers”.