CAIRO (AP) -- With Egypt still reeling from a 6-1 loss to Ghana in a World Cup playoff, the team's American coach is hoping to restore some pride to the bruised national side.
It's unclear, however, if Bob Bradley will even get the chance to do that.
"Our team has worked very, very hard to try and make a dream, an important dream for all Egyptians," Bradley said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I am sad that we've put ourselves in a position right now where that dream is at risk.
"It's going to be difficult, but we still have 90 more minutes."
Bradley spoke to the AP ahead of a meeting of the Egyptian Football Association's board of directors on Monday that will discuss the Ghana match. Bradley's immediate future is also likely to be on the agenda amid reports that he will be asked to step aside for second leg of the two-match playoff.
Egypt is set to host the return leg in Cairo on Nov. 19.
But it's the first leg, held last week in the Ghanaian town of Kumasi, that is still causing fury in Egypt. Much of the blame for a surprisingly one-sided defeat has been pinned on Bradley, putting the future of the former United States coach in doubt and raising speculation that he might not be with his team for the second match because of fears over his safety.
The final decision on his role in the Ghana match and whether the return match will be played in the Egyptian capital was "out of my hands," Bradley said.
"If it is left to me I would be with the team because we had been together throughout this period with a dream," Bradley said. "It's important that we can stand together one more time."
The Ghana Football Association has asked FIFA to move the return leg to a neutral venue, citing security concerns. Football's governing body has given Egypt a deadline of Oct. 28 to provide "comprehensive security assurances."
Bradley was doubtful of Ghana's motivation for the request.
"I can't speak to whether or not this was out of real security concerns or whether or not they were also trying to work things in their favor," Bradley said.
Egypt's upheavals that have resulted in the fall of two presidents in as many years have often turned violent. Political unrest has also spilled into football, killing dozens in a deadly stadium riot last year that traumatized the nation.
Through it all, football-crazed Egyptians were banking on the Pharaohs to earn a spot at next year's World Cup in Brazil, hoping that qualifying for the tournament for the first time in decades will restore some national pride and help bridge deep political and social divisions.
Egypt had only begun to hope for a recovery from the 2011 uprising that forced long-term president Hosni Mubarak from office when Bradley arrived to the country that year to revive a team that missed out on the 2010 World Cup and then the African Cup of Nations for the first time in 33 years.
Managing the team amid political chaos has been Bradley's main challenge, particularly after violence consumed the game following the deaths of 74 people in a stadium riot in Port Said last year.
More violence erupted earlier this year, when seven police officers were acquitted in a trial over the melee while death sentences against 21 alleged rioters were confirmed. Angry fans rampaged through the heart of Cairo, storming the Egyptian football federation's headquarters before setting it ablaze.
Then in July, Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup, prompting his supporters to stage near-weekly protests for his reinstatement and their rivals to demonstrate in support of the military-backed leadership.
"When we went on the field in Kumasi last week, these were some of the things that the players were carrying on their shoulders," Bradley said. "It's a lot to ask of the players in a football match."
Bradley shrugged off criticism that ranges from accusations that he made bad lineup choices ahead of the Ghana match and failed to make tactical decisions and fortify Egypt's defense as his side was being hammered. The fans back home said the coach's mistakes humiliated the team.
"I am strong in these situations," Bradley said. "As a national coach you have some people on your side and some who are against you," he said. "I understand the disappointment. I see it when I see people in the street."
But sometimes, the American said, people also come up to him and say: "Thank you for giving everything at the time when the country is going through so much trouble, so much turmoil."
Short of a "miracle" in second leg, the American is aware that his time in Egypt is coming to an end.
"If we don't manage to make a miracle, then I'll be finished," Bradley said. "I will leave feeling sad for everyone but also knowing that we gave everything we had to try and make it happen."
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