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Egypt fires Rui Vitória after disappointing Africa Cup campaign costs another coach his job

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Egypt fired Portuguese coach Rui Vitória and his backroom staff Sunday following the team’s disappointing performance at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Egyptian Football Association thanked Vitória and his assistants after its directors met earlier to discuss the team’s performance.

Egypt, which has won a record seven Africa Cup titles, failed to win a game in the 34th edition of the tournament and was knocked out by Congo in a dramatic penalty shootout in the round of 16.

The Egyptian federation said it was appointing former Egypt and Al Ahly defender Mohamed Youssef as interim coach “until a foreign technical director is selected and the rest of the staff is formed.” The federation said its directors will study the resumes of foreign coaches at their next meeting.

French coach Herve Renard has reportedly agreed to take over once his contract as coach of the France women’s team expires. Renard guided Saudi Arabia to a famous win over eventual tournament winner Argentina at the 2022 World Cup and was the subject of a loan bid from the Ivorian federation to step in for its remaining Africa Cup games after it fired another French coach, Jean-Louis Gasset.

Vitória, who was appointed Egypt coach on a four-year deal in 2022, failed to get the best out of the team. The Pharaohs drew all their Africa Cup group games by the same score of 2-2 against Mozambique, Ghana and Cape Verde before its loss on penalties to Congo.

After losing Mohamed Salah to a hamstring injury in the second group game against Ghana, and No. 1 goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy with a dislocated shoulder in the third against group winner Cape Verde, the Egyptian federation sacrificed a cow in an attempt the change the team’s luck.

But reserve goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal – whose saves almost won the title for Egypt in the previous edition – struck the crossbar with his spot kick in the penalty shootout before Congo counterpart Lionel Mpasi stepped up to fire Congo into the quarterfinals.

Congo has since progressed to the semifinals, where the Leopards face host nation Ivory Coast on Wednesday.

The Egypt job had been former Portugal midfielder Vitória’s first as a national team coach.

This Africa Cup has taken its toll on coaches. Ghana coach Chris Hughton was fired before Ivory Coast dismissed its coach, the Tanzania coach was suspended after one game, the Gambia coach resigned, the Senegal coach was hospitalized, and the Tunisia coach stepped down as his contract ended with the team’s exit.

Djamel Belmadi remains the Algeria coach on paper despite Algerian Football Federation president Wali Sadi announcing that he agreed to end Belmadi’s contract. Belmadi was reportedly unhappy with Sadi’s announcement and is yet to finalize his departure.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer