Preview: Salah-less Egypt in a must-win situation against Cape Verde in Nations Cup

Ahram Online , Sunday 21 Jan 2024

A struggling Egyptian team will be desperate for victory or at least to avoid a loss when they face surprise package Cape Verde on Thursday as both sides wrap up their group stage campaigns in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations

Egypt s forward #19 Mostafa Mohamed fights for the ball with Ghana s forward #25 Antoine Semenyo during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Egypt and Ghana at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 18, 2024. AFP


Egypt currently sit second in Group B with two points, trailing leaders Cape Verde by four points, who have already secured their place in the second round as group leaders.

Ghana and Mozambique, both with one point, will also face off on Thursday.

A win against Cape Verde would secure automatic qualification for Egypt to the next round as group runners-up, while a draw would keep their hopes alive, as they could potentially be among the best four third-placed teams from the six groups.

However, a loss would make Egypt's chances of progression nearly impossible.

The lackluster performances of the Pharaohs in their past two games have contributed to their current critical situation in the group.

They started their group stage campaign with a frustrating 2-2 draw against Mozambique, followed by another identical result against Ghana.

Meanwhile, Cape Verde surprised with a 2-1 victory over Ghana in their group opener, and then secured a 3-1 win against Mozambique in their second game, earning a maximum of six points.

"We are well aware that we will face a tough opponent, but we have thoroughly prepared for all the teams in the group," said coach Vitoria during the pre-match news conference.

"We must demonstrate determination and play with intensity to overcome Cape Verde."

Egypt's ace Mohamed Salah, suffered an injury during the draw against Ghana and will be sidelined for around one week for treatment.

His absence will undoubtedly impact the team's offensive performance.

Vitoria introduced Mostafa Fathi as Salah's replacement against Ghana, and Ahmed 'Zizo' Sayed is also an option.

However, Egypt's main concern lies with their vulnerable defense, which has conceded four goals in two games.

In their previous Nations Cup campaign, where they reached the final, they only conceded two goals.

In the 2017 edition, where Egypt also reached the final, they conceded three goals.

"We consistently generate scoring opportunities, but we have areas to work on and develop in defense," commented the national team coach.

Egypt's defenders have made several defensive mistakes in the previous games, but such errors will not be tolerated against Cape Verde, as there is no room for mistakes in this crucial clash.

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