Egypt begin their hunt for an eighth Africa Cup of Nations title when they face Mozambique at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Sunday January 14 in Cote D’Ivoire.
The Pharaohs, beaten finalists at AFCON’s 2017 and 2021 by Cameroon and Senegal respectively, aim to end their drought at the finals, while the Mambas of Mozambique are featuring at the continental showpiece for the first time since 2010.
Rui Vitoria may have preached caution heading into AFCON 2023, but the Pharaohs are driven by defeats suffered at the deciding fixtures in the 2017 and 2021 tournaments.
Mohamed Salah, the team’s star player, was involved in both losses against Cameroon and Senegal, failing to take a kick in the penalty shootout disappointment.
The Liverpool star, who would have been the Pharaohs’ fifth penalty taker against the Lions, has stated the importance of victory in the Ivory Coast, and the forward should play a pivotal role in how the seven-time winners play in the competition.
Vitoria’s men were one of the top sides in qualifying, losing only one of their six fixtures; a 2#0 defeat against Ethiopia and conceding only three times as the North African side kept four clean sheets.
Egypt lost only one game throughout 2023 against Tunisia and they started 2024 positively with a 2#0 victory over Tanzania on January 7.
As for their opponents, Mozambique are inexperienced at this level despite participating in four AFCONs; that is, 1986, 1996, 1998 and 2010.
The Mambas comfortably finished second in qualifying, four points behind defending African champions Senegal, to make it to their first Cup of Nations since the finals in Angola 14 years ago.
Chiquinho Conde deserves credit for masterminding their journey to this stage, having seen Mozambique fail to qualify for six consecutive tournaments.
Whether they make it out of a group containing Ghana and Cape Verde remains to be seen, but their history of not winning a game at AFCON dilutes optimism before a ball is kicked.
The Mambas have lost 10 of their 12 games at previous editions, a statistic that underscores the task facing Chiquinho.
Salah was involved in four of Egypt’s 10 goals in qualifying, with Mostafa Mohamed with three, and the pair are expected to start on Sunday.
Trezeguet should complete the Pharaohs’ attack, while Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny should anchor the team’s midfield.
Mozambique currently have no reported injury worries.
Clesio Bauque was Os Mambas’ joint-top scorer with Geny Catamo on two goals in qualifying, and both could play a part against Egypt, with the former possibly starting.
Egypt possible starting XI:
El-Shenawy; Kamal, Hegazy, Abdelmonem, Fatouh; Ashour, Elneny, Attia; Salah, Mohamed, Trezeguet
Mozambique possible starting XI:
Ernan; Macandza, Mexer, Malembana, Langa; Guima, Shaquille; Lourenco, Domingues, Clesio; King
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, written in full or parts, without a written permission from our management
This site is not responsible for contents displayed by external sites