LIBREVILLE Egypt's defeat by Cameroon in Sunday's African Nations Cup final extended Hector Cuper's miserable record in finals, with the coach conceding it does not get any easier to lose such high-profile matches.
The 61-year-old is no stranger to final defeats, having lost five finals during his managerial career.
During his time with Valencia, the Argentine suffered agony in two Champions League finals - - being thumped by Real Madrid in 2000 and losing on penalties to Bayern Munich in 2001 - - while at Mallorca, he lost the King's Cup to Barcelona and the Cup Winners' Cup to Lazio. During a stint with Aris Thessalonika, he also lost to Panathinaikos in the Greek Cup final, although he did lift the Copa CONMEBOL with Lanus in 1996 following a two-legged victory over Santa Fe. Cuper’s final record clearly rankles with the experienced coach, who curtly told journalists to "read my history" when asked about his past performances ahead of the final in Libreville.
His Egypt side headed into Sunday’s final against Cameroon as favourites, but despite taking the lead through Mohamed Elneny, they were undone by two second-half goals from Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar as the Central Africans clinched the continental title.
"I don’t want to say I’m used to losing another final," Cuper told journalists, "it’s one more for me, but the point is that I wanted to win this one.
"The sadness I have isn’t because I lost another final, it’s because there was so much hope, especially among Egyptians," he said. "I’m sorry that we couldn’t give happiness to Egyptians because I imagine that there was a lot of expectation among them.
"I’m sorry for the players, who put in so much effort,” he continued. "We have finished this competition with a defeat but they did well."
Egypt won a hat-trick of Nations Cups between 2008 and 2010, but then failed to qualify for the subsequent three editions of the biennial competition. Despite falling short in the final, Cuper can hold his head high after overseeing the national side’s renaissance and helping Egypt restore their standings as one of Africa’s top sides. "I congratulate Cameroon on winning the cup," Cuper concluded. "They played well and they deserved to win."
(Reporting by Ed Dove; Editing by Mark Gleeson and Amlan Chakraborty)