If there has ever been a game at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon that north Africans want to see, this is the chance for it – it’s Egypt against Morocco on Sunday, January 30.
In a battle for superiority on the north side of the continent, the Pharaohs will engage at the Atlas Lions in the quarter-final of the AFCON at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Egypt, with the exception of their first group game in the early stages of the competition, have done everything right and deservingly so, have secured a spot in the last eight of the competition.
Morocco, on the other hand, are yet to taste defeat so far in the competition, with their only shortcoming being a 2-2 draw with Gabon in their last group game. Morocco have scored seven goals in the competition so far and are definitely in contention to be one of the teams to have scored the most goals should they continue their run.
Egypt are record winners of the AFCON, and if there is anyone who plays this competition better, they should get that recognition. However, it will not come on a silver platter for them against the Atlas Lions on Sunday.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Date: Sunday, January 30.
Time: 15:00 GMT.
They could be a bit of a worry for the Pharaohs with goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy a doubt for the encounter after coming off injured in the last game against Ivory Coast. Gabaski did well when he came on for the Al Ahly man and should be exciting to see how he commands the backline in what could be his first start in the competition. Versatile midfielder, Akram Tawfik is also out of the game while Hamdi Fathi is also another doubt for Carlos Queiroz’s side.
Vahid Halilhodzic has no big injury concerns ahead of the game with everyone available for selection for the crunch encounter. The head coach could name a similar line-up to what we saw against Malawi in their round of 16 encounter last week.
In all competitions, Egypt have lost three of their last six games while Morocco have been on the losing end just once within that time.
It is always a tough game to decide whenever these two countries come up against each other. Each side can boast of a win in their last three games with the other ending in a draw.
Morocco have made use of their set-pieces the most in their last three games including two stunners from Achraf Hakimi. The right-back has scored back-to-back free-kicks in the competition and Gabaski will need to be wary of the threat he possesses should he get the opportunity anywhere around his penalty area.
Though a superstar in red hot form in Europe, Mohamed Salah has barely influenced a game for Egypt in this competition. Omar Marmoush has been the strongest point of attack for the Pharaohs and he will need to be given little time on the ball if Morocco are to limit his chance creation on Sunday.
PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE
Salah, Mohamed Elneny, Trezeguet, Adam Lasina and Romain Saiss all have a part to play for their respective countries on Sunday. Imran Louza is also another name that could be given minutes against Egypt at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Premier League players are yet to really gel in the continental showpiece but if you are an Arsenal, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford fan, this is a good game to keep an eye on your players in the AFCON.
POSSIBLE STARTING XIs
Egypt: Gabaski; Kamal, Hegazi, Hamdi, Ashraf; Zizo, El-Sulya, Elneny; Mohamed, Marmoush, Salah.
Morocco: Bono; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Masina; Amrabat, Amallah, Louza; Boufal, En-Nesyri, El Kaabi.
Egypt 1-2 Morocco