Preview: Egypt's Cuper under pressure to be bolder against Uganda

Hatem Maher , Friday 20 Jan 2017,
Egypt's Argentinian coach Hector Raul Cuper kicks the ball during a training session in Port-Gentil on January 18, 2017, during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Gabon (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's coach Hector Cuper will be under pressure to take a more adventurous approach when his side take on Uganda in their second Group D game of the African Cup of Nations on Saturday.

The Pharaohs were largely feeble in their opening game against Mali, sitting back to simply soak up pressure without launching their trademark counter attacks, which have been a hallmark of the team since Cuper took over little less than two years ago.

A goalless draw had fans fuming, with some fondly recalling the days when Egypt displayed an attractive brand of football under coach Hassan Shehata to win a hat-trick of Nations Cup titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

But others defended the pragmatic approach of the Argentinean boss, under whom Egypt have become solid at the back, having conceded a solitary goal in four Nations Cup qualifying matches.

But they could only create one goal-scoring opportunity against the Malians, with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Abdallah El-Said, the usual architects of flowing breakaways, well shackled.

"I understand that Egyptian fans would like to see us winning by a big margin every match, but my main target is to control every game," Cuper told a news conference previewing the Uganda match.

"We are a team that has an identity. Our defence is good and we are working to improve our attack.

"There are no easy games and we will never underestimate Uganda."

Uganda produced a spirited second-half display against Ghana but were undone by a first-half penalty from Andre Ayew, losing 1-0 but taking heart from a promising form on their first Nations Cup appearance since 1978.

"Against Ghana, the players were affected by stage fright. But we will give 200% and try to get good results against Egypt and Mali," Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic said.

Egypt were given a huge scare when goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi limped off injured against Mali, making way for Essam El-Hadary and leaving the veteran 44-year-old as the only fit guardian in the team's squad after Sherif Ekramy had already been ruled out of the opening match due to an injury.

But Ahly's Ekramy should be fit to be the understudy keeper against Uganda.

"There is still a healthy competition among the goalkeepers and we are united in this tournament," said El-Hadary, who set a record when he came on against Mali after becoming the oldest player in the Nations Cup history.

Egypt are also expected to make some changes to their starting line-up, although assistant coach Osama Nabih declined to say who could be replaced.

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


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