Egypt manager Hector Cuper sounded an optimistic note over his side's chances of ending a long wait for a World Cup appearance, saying he is confident that his players are capable of achieving a long-held dream.
The Pharaohs will launch their campaign in the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers with an away game against Congo on Sunday.
Cuper believes an opening win would boost his side before they meet heavyweights Ghana and Uganda in the other Group G games.
"I'm optimistic regarding my team's chances in the World Cup qualifiers," Cuper told a news conference on Wednesday previewing the Congo match.
"Optimism doesn't mean that I'm 100 percent sure we are going to play at the World Cup, but I'm confident that the players will give their all to achieve this target.
"Congo's clash is very important. The opening games are always important. A victory will be important to enhance our confidence," he added.
Egypt have made the second of two World Cup appearances in 1990 in Italy.
No defensive problems
The former Valencia and Inter Milan boss played down concerns over Egypt's recent defensive displays, which have been poor in friendly games against Guinea and South Africa.
Egypt will have to do without Ahly's injured defender Rami Rabia when they meet Congo, with his club teammate Ahmed Hegazy still doubtful due to a hamstring injury he picked up during an African Champions League game against Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca in August.
Both men are usually Cuper's preferred partnership in the heart of a four-man defence.
Other options include Zamalek defenders Ali Gabr, Islam Gamal and Ahmed Dwidar, but the trio were disappointing in a stunning 5-2 defeat by Wydad in the second leg of the Champions League semi final, although the Cairo giants reached the final with a 6-5 aggregate win.
"I have the utmost confidence in my defenders. The five goals against Zamalek? such things happen," Cuper commented.
The 60-year-old defended his selections after being criticised by some pundits for leaving out striker Hossam 'Paolo' Salama, top scorer of the Egyptian league in the past two seasons, Zamalek midfielder Ahmed Tawfik and Ahly winger Walid Soliman.
"It is normal to be criticised for your selections. It happens in the entire world but I'm the only one responsible of this team and I know its requirements well," he stated.
"Hossam Paolo is a good striker. He produced some fine displays in the league but I believe that Bassem Morsi, Ahmed Kouka and Mahmoud Kahraba are more ready now. Paolo will have a role to play with the team soon."
Cuper insisted he has no plans to quit, saying he was surprised reports about his alleged intention to depart have surfaced at a time when things are stable.
"Leaving the team?! I have never thought about this," he said.
"We realized many successes during the past period. We have reached the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010 and we just about to begin the World Cup qualifying campaign. We are on the right track.
"I will leave only when I feel that I'm not welcomed," he concluded.
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