Hassan seeks more Egypt success

BENGUELA - Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan will set a new record as Africa's most-capped international when the defending champions meet Cameroon in the African Nations Cup quarter-final in Benguela on Monday.

The midfielder will be earning his 170th cap, allowing the 34-year-old, who has already won three Nations Cup titles and remains the driving force behind his team, to overtake compatriot and former team mate Hossam Hassan.

"It is a great honour for me to break the record. It has always been an honour to be called up and to wear the national jersey. I'm very happy and proud," he told Reuters in an interview in Benguela.

Hassan made his national team debut in 1995, first picked by Dutch coach Ruud Krol, and was selected for the 1996 Nations Cup finals in South Africa but did not play.

He has played at seven successive tournaments since, scoring in the final when Egypt beat South Africa in Ouagadougou in 1998.

"That would be the game that was the turning point for me but I'm happy to have played a lot of matches and had a lot of highlights."

He was named player of the tournament when Egypt won the Nations Cup in 2006 and was influential again in their triumph in Ghana two years ago.

But for all his success on the continent, which also includes an African Champions League medal with Cairo club Al Ahli, Hassan has never managed to make it to the World Cup finals.

Egypt were knocked out of the 2010 finals in South Africa after losing a tempestuous play-off to Algeria in November.

"That was exceedingly disappointing and was probably my last chance to go to the World Cup," Hassan lamented. "But to be a three time African champions is probably better than playing a single match at the World Cup."

Hassan has no plans to stop his international career after the tournament in Angola, where the Pharaohs are seeking an unprecedented third successive title.

Egypt play England at Wembley in March and European champions Spain in June and Hassan said: "As long as the national team needs me and as long as I can add something to the team, I will be available."