Two heavyweights on the African continent will go head-to-head on Thursday, February 3, when Cameroon play Egypt in the semifinal of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations. Between the two countries, there’s a total of 12 AFCON titles won with Egypt winning seven and Cameroon winning five.
These two, are the top winners of the continental showpiece with Ghana coming in third with four titles to their name. However, Thursday’s encounter will be about the two against with a place in the final to look out for as we head into the last stages of the 33rd edition of the AFCON.
Egypt may not have started their AFCON campaign the way they would had wanted to but the Pharaohs have recovered since that defeat to Nigeria in the first game of the tournament. Egypt have gone on to play four more games in the competitions since the defeat, winning all with just one coming through penalty shootouts.
Cameroon, on the other side, are one of two sides yet to taste defeat in the competition since the commencement of the showpiece. The Indomitable Lions have won all five games they have played, scoring 11 goals in the process – the highest in the competition so far.
Toni Conceicao’s men are looking to do the host-and-win in this year’s AFCON. However, the next game could be as difficult as they first thought, though they have the men capable of giving them the victory and taking them to the final two.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Olembe Stadium.
Date: Thursday, February 3.
Time: 19:00 GMT.
Just has been the case since the start of the tournament, Cameroon have no injury concerns for this game as well. Conceicao has had everyone at his disposal and will have another selection headache to look at on Thursday against the Pharaohs. Vincent Aboubakar will obviously be targeting the all-time AFCON top-scorer record, which stands at nine.
Carlos Queiroz has been hit with bad news ahead of the game, with defender Ahmed Hegazy’s tournament said to be over following the injury picked up in the win over Morocco in the quarter-final. The centre-back will play no part in the last two games in the competition. Egypt also have Akram Tawfik out injured while Mohamed El-Shenawy and Gabaski are both doubtful for the game. Third-choice goalkeeper, Mohamed Sobhi came on in extra-time as Egypt saw off the Atlas Lions and he could be handed a starting berth on Thursday should El-Shenawy and Gabaski not recover in time.
Cameroon obviously have been one of the strong favourites to add to their titles. The Indomitable Lions have put no foot wrong so far and their free-scoring game will be put to test against a side that has one of the best defensive records in the AFCON. Egypt have not conceded much all tournament but they have also not scored too many goals.
Both teams have a way of punishing their opponents but Cameroon’s ability to build from the back and pounce on little spaces gives them the edge over the Pharaohs. Egypt have a lot to do to keep the forward line of Cameroon at bay.
Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi have scored 11 goals combined in the tournament and have been the right source of goals for the host nation, which means the north Africans need to be vigilant at the back to limit the involvements of the duo on Thursday.
PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE
Keep an eye on Mohammed Salah in this game after his best performance came in the extra-time win over Morocco. The Liverpool forward scored and assisted in 120 minutes of action, guiding the team into the semis. Much has not been said of his game in this tournament but if his performance against the Atlas Lions is anything to go by, Salah could be Cameroon’s headache at the Olembe Stadium. With an eye for goal, Salah adds a finishing touch to Egypt’s build-up and that’s will be what he will be looking at once again.
Aston Villa’s Trezeguet has started just one game in the competition so far but he came off the bench to score the goal that took them to the last four. He tapped into the net from close range from a Salah pass, beating Achraf Hakimi to the ball. Success for him on the continent could see him get the attention of new manager Steven Gerrard upon his return to club football.
PREDICTED STARTING LINEUPS
Cameroon: Onana; Fai, Castelletto, Ngadeu, Tolo; Oum Gouet, Anguissa; Ekambi, Kunde, Ngamaleu; Aboubakar.
Egypt: Sobhi; Kamal, Trezeguet, Hamdi, Fatouh; Ashraf, El-Sulya, Elneny; Mohamed, Marmoush, Salah.
Cameroon 2-1 Egypt