Preview: Hosts Egypt look for more attacking flair in second AFCON clash

Ahram Online , Tuesday 25 Jun 2019,
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Mohamed Salah
Egypt's Mohamed Salah in action with Zimbabwe's Knowledge Musona (Photo: REUTERS)

Although they secured an opening Africa Cup of Nations win, Egypt will still be looking to produce a more convincing display when they meet DR Congo at Cairo's International Stadium on Wednesday.

The Pharaohs labored to a 1-0 victory over Zimbabwe, thanks to a first-half goal from winger Mahmoud Trezeguet, but struggled for creativity in the final third before a sell-out crowd at their traditional venue.

With the best four third-placed sides also advancing to the knockout stage, Egypt's progress is all but assured. However, they are aware they need to up their game if they are to challenge for a record-extending eighth Nations Cup title.

"I am not worried about the harmony between my players as it will increase by playing more matches," Egypt coach Javier Aguirre told a news conference.

"We play some good matches and the performance will be better in upcoming games."

The Mexican will have a few questions to answer following the uninspiring opening display against Zimbabwe, the most pressing of which will be who to field as a lone striker.

Egypt's squad includes three out-and-out frontmen but none has proved reliable, with Ahly's Marwan Mohsen coming in for fierce criticism after failing to make his presence felt against Zimbabwe.

One option could be deploying Mohamed Salah in the number nine role, although Egypt could sorely miss the Liverpool talisman's darting runs down the right flank.

Salah's tame performance against Zimbabwe also had some questioning his tendency to shoot rather than feed the teammates who were in better positions.

"Salah works hard as part of the team and is very committed. He is not playing selfishly as some people say. There isn't any problem at all," Aguirre said.

"He is a very important player for the Egypt team, like Cedric Bakambu is for Dr Congo, but we also have other players who can score like what happened with Mahmoud Trezeguet against Zimbabwe."

DR Congo will be desperate to avoid a loss against their illustrious opponents after slumping to an opening 2-0 defeat by Uganda.

"We had a bad game and deserved to lose against Uganda. Now we have to do it the hard way," DR Congo Florent Ibenge said.

Egypt defender Ahmed Hegazi is doubtful for the game after breaking his nose against Zimbabwe. He will wear a protective mask if he plays.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 

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Group A W D L P
Egypt
3 0 0 9
Uganda
1 1 1 4
DR Congo
1 0 2 3
Zimbabwe
0 1 2 1
Group B W D L P
Madagascar
2 1 0 7
Nigeria
2 0 1 6
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Burundi
0 0 3 0
Group C W D L P
Algeria
3 0 0 9
Senegal
2 0 1 6
Kenya
1 0 2 3
Tanzania
0 0 3 0
Group D W D L P
Morocco
3 0 0 9
Cote d'Ivoire
2 0 1 6
South Africa
1 0 2 3
Namibia
0 0 3 0
Group E W D L P
Mali
2 1 0 7
Tunisia
0 3 0 3
Angola
0 2 1 2
Mauritania
0 2 1 2
Group F W D L P
Ghana
1 2 0 5
Cameroon
1 2 0 5
Benin
0 3 0 3
Guinea Bissau
0 1 2 1