Soccer-Syria coach Cuper wants to bring happiness after devastating earthquake

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Egypt Press Conference - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 18, 2018 Egypt coach Hector Cuper during the press conference REUTERS/Henry Romero

(Reuters) - Syria's new coach Hector Cuper said he wants to make fans happy after a devastating earthquake in the country killed thousands last month.

The earthquake on Feb. 6, four days after Cuper's appointment, killed more than 46,000 people in Turkey and more than 6,000 in Syria.

The earthquake added to the miserable conditions that Syrians have been suffering as a result of 12 years of civil war.

"It is unfortunate that I took over the job in this painful period after the earthquake and the death of many," the 67-year-old Argentine, who took Valencia to successive Champions League finals just over 20 years ago, said during his first news conference‭.

"I have a greater desire now to make the Syrian fans happy and all the people who have suffered lately," the former Inter Milan coach added. "We know that we cannot remove the pain, but we try to ease the pain.

"I am happy to be among you amid these difficult circumstances, and I have found tremendous encouragement and a warm welcome since my arrival, and I am not saying this to gain sympathy."

Cuper, who guided Egypt to the World Cup in 2018 for the first time in 28 years, indicated that his short-term contract extends until the Asian Cup in early 2024 in Qatar.

"We will face pressure, and we welcome that, the fans will demand impressive results, but we need time to adapt, there are no miracles," he said.

Cuper begins his tenure with friendly matches against Thailand and Bahrain this month.

Syria have never qualified for the World Cup, and have yet to get past the group stage in the Asian Cup.

(Reporting by Ahmed Mostafa; Editing by Toby Davis)

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