Abuja - An unusual football marriage looks to be on the rocks, as the collaboration between Egypt and their American coach, Bob Bradley, appears close to an end after their World Cup play-off humiliation by Ghana on Tuesday.
A 6-1 thrashing in Kumasi in the first leg of the African zone play-off leaves Egypt facing the stark reality of yet another painful failure in the preliminaries.
"The dream of going to the World Cup is what kept our team united for these two years.
"But we've seen that dream become nearly impossible.
"I say nearly impossible because the situation we've put ourselves in is a very difficult one. We know this and we feel this,’’he said.
Bradley's contract is tied to the World Cup cycle, but Egyptian media were speculating on Wednesday about a possible rapid departure, even with the return leg in Cairo to come on Nov. 19.
The appointment of an American to take charge of the team had been an unlikely match, indicative of an increasingly desperate desire by Egypt to find a solution to their World Cup woes.
Despite dominating African football at both national team and cup level, they have failed to reach the finals since their last appearance in Italy in 1990.
During that time they have won four African Nations Cup titles.
The Egyptian FA had taken traditional routes in search of a solution, over the decades appointing both top local coaches and expatriates from Europe to guide their quest.
Bringing on board Bradley was "thinking out of the box."
He was the United States coach at the 2010 World Cup.
But he made an impression on Egypt one year earlier, when his American side staged a spirited showing to beat Egypt 3-0 to deny them a semi-final place in the Confederations Cup.
His acceptance of the job in 2011, found his working conditions vastly changed just five months later when league football was cancelled following the Port Said stadium disaster, where 74 spectators were killed.
It was followed by intermittent political strife, lengthy delays to the restart of the league and then a second cancellation this June after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.
In spite of the turmoil Egypt was the only side to win all six group matches in the African preliminaries.
Bradley also managed to incorporate some exciting new talent into an ageing team and won respect for staying on in Cairo, even through the most turbulent times.
But his time will be up in either the next days or after the second leg next month, leaving Egypt to go back to the drawing board as they turn their focus to 2018.