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AFCON 2019: Why Egypt is the team to beat

By Football256 Team

As Africa’s biggest football showpiece draws near, all the attention is on the host nation Egypt who boast of a record seven titles in their history and have an added advantage of hosting the tournament.

But how can the Pharaoh’s redeem themselves and reverse the missed opportunities in 1962 and 2017, the only two finals they have lost.

Home soil

Egyptians breathe football and their past records are testimony to that, both at the club and national team level.

With around six glamorous stadiums including Cairo international stadium that accommodates 75,000 people, Egypt will be a force to reckon with on home soil.

Expected to host all their Nations Cup games at the iconic venue gives Egypt the cutting edge over the other participants. Can they use that as an advantage? Yes, they can.

Group A favorites

Group A shows that there will be no obvious challengers for the Egyptians since they have a good record against the other three teams in the group.

They beat Uganda cranes in last edition in Gabon 2017, gave Zimbabwe a run for their money in their last four encounters, they also played to a goalless stalemate in their last encounter with DR Congo.

They scored the most goals (16) in the qualifiers more than any team, won 5 games and registered only one draw. One can hardly recall when Egypt last lost a game.

Zimbabwe have individual players that can win them games and score goals but they always fall short when it comes to the big occasion.

No doubt, DRC have got the acquaintance and a decent squad to frustrate any team but inconsistency has always hampered them when it comes to winning when it matters the most.

Uganda, is one of the underdogs in the tournament and this could somehow put the pressure off the team and let the performances do the talking.

No one can write off the Uganda cranes just yet considering on how they qualified. But with all that said, the odds are on Egypt to get the job done at home.

Salah effect

Mohammad Salah (10) celebrates a goal for Egypt, he is the player to watch at the Nations / Courtesy Photo

Much of Egypt’s success will of course rest on the shoulders of Muhammad Salah also known as the Egyptian King.

He has scored 66 goals in his last 63 appearances for Liverpool and he was named the joint top scorer with his counterpart Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on 22 goals last season.

He won the Champions League and a favorite for the FIFA World’s best player later in the year if he happens to win the AFCON 2019. Not to mention the Ballon d’Or.

The Egyptian King brings more than just the numbers, he is a role model to many players in the tournament, a leader, a pillar of inspiration and a fear factor for the Pharaoh’s.

In several press conferences, every coach from the Group A opposing teams highlighted on how to stop Mo Salah and that is a clear indication of how fierce he could be to the opposition sides.

Apart from being fierce and scoring so many goals with Liverpool, he would love to join the other retired Egyptian legends.

Ahmed Hassan who is the most capped Egyptian footballer in history with 184 caps, Hassan Ahmed El- Shazly the all-time goal scorer in Egyptian colors and many more from the past who are African champions.

Salah knows that his country needs him more than ever and if he want a seat on a high table, he must win this year’s AFCON title.

A formidable squad

The Pharaoh’s boss Javier Aguirre promised to put out his armoury to make any opposing teams to answer their own questions.

He is known for making tough decisions when it comes to national duties which have always put him under the spotlight.

He dropped some of the veterans on the team and gave home-based players a chance to showcase their talent.

The 23-man squad has 15 players that play their professional football in the Egyptian Premier league; mainly from Zamalek FC, Al Ahly and Pyramid FC.

If there’s any team that is solid, decent and with an organized squad then Egypt is up there.

Egypt is therefore expected to put up stiff competition for other teams in the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

They are likely to face stiff competition from Senegal who are looking for their maiden trophy and their captain Sadio Mane is hungry for success.

Nigeria also have a cast of experienced stars but they will need to play as a team if they are to replicate their 2013 success that delivered their third title in South Africa.

Cameroon are the defending champions and having stripped off the rights to host the tournament they would want to make a statement.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are the other favourites because of their star-studded squads, but all those will have to pass the Egyptian test first.

One Response

  1. Subsequently all teams have a chance to show case their talent, let’s watch the space and see how it plays out the article is spot on, Probably detailed.

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