CAIRO: Ahmed Hassan believes the outcome of Egypt s opening African Cup of Nations clash against Nigeria will set the tone for his side s shows during the rest of the tournament.
Opening games are always very important, the Egypt skipper told Modern Sport late on Wednesday.
Our match against Nigeria will show how we will perform in the following matches, just like the 2008 tournament.
Two years ago, the Pharaohs secured an impressive 4-2 victory over Cameroon in their first game and went on to clinch a record sixth Nations Cup title.
They begin the defense of their title against two-time winners Nigeria, who will also play in the World Cup later this year, on Tuesday in Angolan city Benguela.
Nigeria are a strong team, but we are now familiar with all African teams, Hassan stated.
The veteran Ahly midfielder, who was voted the best player in the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt, is set to make an eighth appearance at the biennial tournament, a record he will share with Cameroon defender Rigobert Song.
Personal targets should be also important for Egypt players, Hassan believes.
I told the players they should do their best to realize their own dreams. I personally want to win a fourth African title with the national team, others want to play in Europe, etc, the 34-year-old added.