Egypt boss Aguirre says hosts can improve

Javier Aguirre's Egypt are chasing a record-extending eighth Africa Cup of Nations title (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)
Javier Aguirre's Egypt are chasing a record-extending eighth Africa Cup of Nations title (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt coach Javier Aguirre admitted there is room for improvement as the Africa Cup of Nations hosts and title favourites head into their second group game against the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday.

Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan's goal earned Egypt a 1-0 victory over Zimbabwe in the tournament's curtain-raiser and a second straight win in Group A would leave the Pharaohs in pole position to finish top of their group.

"Egypt can play better. For sure in the next game without the pressure of the first game we must play much better," Aguirre told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference in Cairo.

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"DR Congo were really unlucky against Uganda in my opinion. They deserved more than to lose 2-0. I hope both teams play better for the spectators, both teams have more to give to the fans."

Star forward Mohamed Salah had a number of chances in the opening game but was unable to find the target, and Aguirre hit back at suggestions the Liverpool player was used in a deeper position than with his club.

"You say Salah plays in midfield? He received one ball in 90 minutes in our half. He defends more at Liverpool than here. Salah had eight shots on goal, as a striker, as a right winger in the attack."

"I think Salah is an important player for the team of course, just as with (Cedric) Bakambu for DRC, but we still have other players," he added. "We are not depending on one single player in the Egypt team but on the other players as well."

Aguirre said the tournament's new June/July time slot would give some of those lesser known players the chance to showcase their talent, including Friday's match-winner Trezeguet who spent the past season with Kasimpasa in Turkey.

"This Africa Cup there are 24 teams and it's in summer so many, many people from Europe are here looking for new players, new faces," said Aguirre, a former CONCACAF Gold Cup winner with his native Mexico.

"Of course Trezeguet is one of these new faces for sure. It's a good opportunity for Trezeguet to show the world he can play at any level. He had a great season in Turkey, but not just Trezeguet. I think we have many players who can play in any part of the world."

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