Is there such a thing as luck in football? If there is, the seemingly cursed Egyptian manager needs a bit of it.
Hector Cuper has been left to reflect on his run to the final of Afcon 2017, only to lose - just as he has lost every final he has reached. The Argentine had already previously lost five finals in a row, with different teams in different countries.
And he had spoken about how dearly he would have loved to break that unlucky streak before meeting Cameroon in Sunday's final to grant the Pharaohs an eighth African title. Egypt had reached the final after beating Burkina Faso on penalties, while Cameroon defeated Ghana.
But the 61-year old, having lost in finals with teams like Mallorca, Valencia and Aris Tesalonika, saw his bad luck extended. His response after the game was to take a humorous look at things.
“I count Huracán [in Argentina] and Inter Milan [in Italy] when we knew that if we won on the final day we would win the league, but didn’t,” he smiled.
“I don’t believe in witchcraft or curses or strange things like that, And there are finals and finals. We lost two of them on penalties the Copa del Rey in 1998 and the Champions League in 2001, we had nine players in the Copa del Rey, and we lost to great teams,” he explained.
“So jinx, bad luck? If you’ve only got bad luck, you don’t get there at all.”
Cuper was voted Uefa Coach of the Year in 2000, and has plenty experience at the top level. “[The Egypt FA] asked me to qualify for the African Cup of Nations and play it; they didn’t ask me to win it.”
But he is happy with his North African adventure thus far, and hopes he can do bigger teams with Egypt. “I needed a shock, a jolt: a big objective, a World Cup, a real competition. I found that here: this feels like it did when I went to Mallorca in 1997: it fits. It feels good.”
“Fundamentally, what I like is to train. Football is a passion: if you don’t have that, there’s something missing. Football gives me life, oxygen; it always moves me, motivates me.”