Updated: Nov 16
Rui Vitoria, coach of the Egyptian national team, called for a large crowd in the stands of Cairo International Stadium to support his team when it faces Djibouti in the first round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.
In recent years, Egyptian fans have refrained from attending national team matches except in important matches, and Vitoria believes that this does not help the players and may leave its mark on the results as well.
Speaking at the press conference before the Djibouti match, the Portuguese coach said, “This is the right time for the fans to be interested in the Egyptian national team and to attend the matches on the field.”
He also added, "Egypt is a large nation and its team has distinguished elements. I feel sad when I see teams with less technical elements, but they have greater public support than us."
Vitoria was asked why Abdullah Al-Saeed and Shikabala were excluded from the national team list despite their recent brilliance with Pyramids and Zamalek. He replied, “The two players are very special, especially Shikabala, whom I have known since he was at Sporting Lisbon. We aim to provide technical competence in the elements with a young age average.” .
He added, "I am trying to prepare a team with a mixture of experienced elements with younger elements in all positions."
As for the Djibouti match and the qualifiers in general, Vitoria said, “I have a lot of experience as a coach and have faced many situations, including the superiority of small teams over large ones.”
He concluded, "I know that there are many matches that previously prevented Egypt from reaching the World Cup. We will strive to win the largest number of matches, take the top spot in the group, and qualify for the World Cup."
It is noteworthy that the Egypt group includes Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Guinea Bissau, of which only the first-place team will qualify for the 2026 World Cup.