Mahmoud el-Gouhari: Football coach who led Egypt to the African Nations Cup


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The Independent Online

Mahmoud el-Gouhari, who died of a brain haemorrhage on 3 September at the age of 74, was widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of Egyptian and African football, and was certainly the best coach to come out of Egypt. He rose to fame when he led Egypt to the 1990 World Cup, his career climaxing with victory in the African Nations Cup in 1998.

Egypt's appearance in the 1990 World Cup finals came after a 56-year absence from the tournament. They drew with the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, before a 1–0 defeat by England, thanks to a Mark Wright goal, eliminated them. In the wake of the Ireland game, there was a brief war of words with the Republic's manager Jack Charlton, who criticised el-Gouhari's side for time-wasting and negative tactics.

Born in 1938, el-Gouhari was described as the "football general" by Egypt's media because he fought in the 1973 war with Israel. As a player he was the top scorer as Egypt won the 1959 African Nations Cup. He went on to coach the national side from 1988 to 2002. He was the first Egyptian to coach both of the country's two most famous football clubs, el-Ahly and Zamalek, both of whom he led to success in African and Arab tournaments. He also coached Oman and Jordan.