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Javier Aguirre and Egypt: What should the Pharaohs expect?

Hector Cuper was the first - and inevitable - casualty from Egypt's disappointing World Cup campaign, with the Argentinian coach dismissed in June after the Pharaohs lost all three of their Group A fixtures.

The 62-year-old may have guided the North African giants to their first World Cup since 1990, and overseen their run to the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, but he was always unlikely to survive their poor showing in Russia.

Despite arguably being drawn into the most favourable of the eight groups, Egypt departed without any points, and wholly failed to live up to expectations after a series of turgid displays.

The Egyptian Football Association were linked with several potential replacements for Cuper before ultimately plumping for Javier Aguirre, in a move that hasn't been well received by swathes of the fanbase.

Aguirre may have managed extensively around the world - and held significant posts such as Atletico Madrid and the Mexico national team - but his trophy cabinet is relatively barren, he has no experience of African football, and brings with him a whiff of controversy due to an ongoing match-fixing investigation.

He certainly has the quality at his disposal to oversee AFCON qualification - providing the squad can avoid any post-World Cup hangover and move on from the internal strife that's enveloped the national team - but is he the man to get the most out of this talented collection of players?

The first thing Egypt fans should expect from Aguirre is effectiveness.

'El Vasco' - translating as The Basque - doesn't have a track record for cultivating the kind of colourful, flashy football that some Pharaohs fans might crave.

His first stint with Mexico - when he again took over a listless giant on the verge of crisis - offers a valuable glimpse into how the next year may go.

In 2001, El Tri infamously lost their first ever official match at the legendary Azteca Stadium - a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica - a match which became known as 'El Aztecazo'.

Coach Enrique Meza was duly dismissed and Aguirre was appointed, having led Pachuca to their maiden Liga MX in 1999.

As with Egypt today, Aguirre took over a team low on morale, and one who were coming off the back of a very public disappointment. However, he boosted the confidence of his squad and they finished second in the CONCACAF qualifiers, securing a place for the World Cup.

At the World Cup itself, they topped a group containing Italy, Croatia and Ecuador, before Aguirre's limitations revealed themselves.

In a Last 16 2-0 defeat by the United States - El Tri's eternal rival - the Mexican was exposed as entirely lacking in creativity or imagination.

Once the States had countered his Plan A - attacking down the flanks with fast, skilful midfielders - Mexican ran out of ideas.

Worryingly, despite a plethora of creative players - headlined by Mohamed Salah - the Pharaohs were worryingly uninspired in the attacking third under Cuper, and it remains to be seen whether Aguirre is the man to solve this particular concern.

Defensively, Egypt also struggled in Russia - they conceded six in three group games - as what had been an area of strength was brutally exposed.

Mexico in '02 had similar, if not quite as severe, problems, with El Tri conceding four in four as Aguirre appeared incapable of finding a strategy to avoid conceding headed goals in dangerous areas.

Ultimately, while he arguably overachieved in 2002, a lack of tactical innovation ultimately cost him in the knockout rounds.

It was a similar story in 2010, when again, Aguirre was drafted in as the side's 'saviour' following the sacking of Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Again, he was effective, relying on veterans such as goalkeeper Oscar Perez, captain Rafael Marquez and forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco to cultivate a positive atmosphere within the team and get the best out of youngsters like Pablo Barrera, Javier Hernández and Hector Moreno.

Despite the uplift, however, familiar Aguirre failings - a predictable attacking strategy and an underwhelming defensive structure - again cost them in the Last 16.

The early signs are that Aguirre won't rely on veterans in the same way this time around. Essam El Hadary has retired from international duty, while older players such as Ahmed Fathy, Shikabala, Mohamed Abdel Shafy, Sherik Ekramy and Abdallah El-Said were also overlooked from his maiden squad.

In 2010, he was criticized for giving more minutes to players who were not at the prime of their careers - notably Adolfo Bautista and Guillermo Franco - over the likes of Chicharito and Guillermo Ochoa.

Experienced heads will still be vital for Aguirre as he looks to pick Egypt up - Ahmed El Mohamady, Ali Gabr, Tarek Hamed, Marwan Mohsen and Ahmed Gomaa are all present - but the coach has at least seen the need to effectuate something of a fresh start with the beleaguered Pharaohs.

During these early months with Aguirre at the helm, as Egypt look to book their AFCON ticket, expect him to identify the Pharaohs' strengths and work with them, although perhaps not as dogmatically as Cuper.

He won't tear things up, and will realise the value of experience, but there should be more dynamism about this Egypt team - they'll press, pass quickly, and exploit the flanks.

In the short term, there'll be an improvement - how could there not be?

However, looking towards next summer's showpiece, it remains to be seen whether he's the man to ultimately forge the kind of offensive unit - centred around Salah - to take down the continent's best sides and provide the kind of football the Egyptian fans crave.

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