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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January, 2004, 16:20 GMT
Mido carries Egypt's hopes
Egyptians expect to see plenty of goal celebrations from Mido
Egypt's hopes of winning a record fifth African Cup of Nations title rest firmly on the shoulders of one of their most controversial footballing exports.

Ahmed 'Mido' Hossam became the most expensive Egyptian player ever when he joined Marseille last year in a deal worth 13 million dollars.

"I like pressure, and I perform better under pressure. That's one of the reasons why I joined Marseille," said Mido who scored in the 1-0 qualifying win over Mauritius which sent Egypt on their way to Tunisia 2004.

Mido also hit the target in a 1-0 friendly win over fellow-finalists Senegal in October and wants more home-grown players to follow him to Europe.

He said: "There are many talented players in Egypt. If they are strong mentally, they can accomplish anything they want."

But controversy is never too far away from the talented 20-year-old who was often at loggerheads with Ajax coach Ronald Koeman during his stormy stay at the Dutch club.

I like pressure, and I perform better under pressure
Mido
He was once banned by Koeman after the Dutch legend accused him of never pulling his weight for Ajax.

"I've learned that he carries a lot of pride inside him," said Koeman. "In Egypt he's treated like a god, people in his homeland don't expect to see him on the bench."

Much will depend on Mido in Tunisia, especially since the Pharaohs are missing long-standing skipper Hany Ramzy.

The 34-year-old Ramzy has not played since August, when he picked up a serious knee injury in the German Bundesliga with his club Kaiserslautern.

Egypt go to Tunisia under enormous pressure. Expectations are so high that the national football association suspended the domestic league until the end of the tournament to give the team adequate preparation time.

The Egyptians are in Group C and their opening group match will be against Zimbabwe on 25 January. They will also face holders Cameroon and Algeria.



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