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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 11:51 GMT
Saleh predicts hard qualifiers
By Amr Shaheen
BBC Sport, Cairo

Egypt manager Mohsen Saleh
Saleh is seeking Egypt's first World Cup qualification since 1990

Egypt coach Mohsen Saleh has expressed his disappointment over the Pharaohs being drawn in the same group as Cameroon for the 2006 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifying.

The Egyptians were drawn in Group Three alongside the Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Benin as well as the Indomitable Lions, Africa's reigning champions.

"I was shocked to know that Cameroon are the seeds in our group," Saleh told the BBC Sport website.

"There is no doubt that they are the best African team and their standard is progressing tremendously."

Cameroon have won the last two Nations Cup titles - in Ghana and Nigeria in 2000, as well as Mali in 2002 - and are the current holders of football's Olympic gold medal.

The Indomitable Lions are also the only African team that has participated in every World Cup final since 1990.

Yet Cameroon are not the only team in Group Three troubling Egypt's worried coach.

"Everyone is talking about Egypt and Cameroon, but the Ivory Coast will be a fierce contender in this group as well," Saleh said.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian coach is confident that his players can reach the country's third World Cup finals.

The Pharaohs were the first African nation to appear in the World Cup in 1934, yet then had to wait more than half a century before reaching their second in Italy in 1990.

"Egyptian players are top class, and it is time for them to prove that," the coach added.

"With such a group, there is no room for mistakes."

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