The Egyptian national football team, led by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, will play a strong match against Tunisia on Wednesday, at Qatar’s Stadium 974, in the semi-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup.
The Egyptian team qualified for the semi-finals after a difficult 3-1 victory over Jordan last Saturday at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakra city in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Yazan Al-Nuaimat gave Jordan the lead early in the first half with a superb curling shot from just inside the area. Before the end of the first 45 minutes, Marwan Hamdi levelled the score, heading home from close range following a floated cross from Ahmed Zizo. After a goalless second half, the game went to extra time. Ahmed Refaat and Marwan Daoud, both came from the bench, scored for the Pharaohs in the first and second halves of extra time, respectively, to send Egypt to the semis.
Winning the Arab Cup title was the first target of appointing Queiroz as coach of the Pharaohs last September, succeeding Hossam Al-Badri. Egypt started their campaign at this Arab Cup with a narrow victory over Lebanon, before hitting their stride with a 5-0 defeat of Sudan and a hard-fought draw with Algeria to win their group. In addition, Egypt played 120 minutes against Jordan. For playing two difficult games in a row, the team have fitness concerns about Mohamed Elshenawy, Ahmed Hegazy, Ayman Ashraf, and Hamdy Fathy, who all continue having treatment. Therefore, the team had a rest on Sunday, and resumed training on Monday after recovery sessions for all players.
Queiroz was keen to have personal conversations with the forwards as they wasted many chances in recent games. The Portuguese coach developed a separate training plan for the attacking players to give them special instructions.
Egypt’s expected line-up against Tunisia consists of Mohamed El-Shennawy, Ahmed Yassin, Mahmoud Hamdi (Al-Wensh), Omar Kamal, Ahmed Fattouh, Amr El-Solia, Hamdi Fathi, Hussein Faisal, Ahmed Refaat, Mohamed Magdy (Afsha), and Mohamed Sharif.
Queiroz sat down with all the players of the national team after the final training session on Tuesday, and spoke with them about the importance of the match, stressing that they have to keep up the good work that dazzled the Arab world during the competition.
Egypt vs. Tunisia
The Pharaohs and the Carthage Eagles encounters have always been hard fought and frequently decided by small details, whether with regard to national teams or clubs.
The upcoming game will be the 41st encounter between Egypt and Tunisia. They met before in 25 official matches and 15 friendly matches. The most recent match between the pair saw Egypt win 3-2 on 16 November 2018 during the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
The Tunisian team outperformed their Egyptian counterparts in all previous games. Overall, the Carthage Eagles won 16 matches, while Egypt won 13 matches, with 11 games ending in a draw. In official competitions, Tunisia won 10 matches against 8 for the Pharaohs, and 7 matches ended in a draw. The first confrontation between Egypt and Tunisia was in the Olympic Games qualifiers on 19 February 1960, in which the Pharaohs won 3-1. The biggest victory for the Pharaohs over Tunisia was 4-0 in the 1989 friendly. On the other hand, Tunisia beat Egypt 4-1 in 1977 during the World Cup qualifiers.
As for the Arab Cup history, Egypt met Tunisia once on 13 July 1988, in which the Pharaohs won 1-0.
Queiroz builds new generation
The Pharaohs, under Queiroz, have had unbeaten runs in both the African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and the Arab Cup so far.
Queiroz proved his high quality to the Egyptian fans after presenting wonderful performance in the Arab Cup, especially as the Pharaohs participated in the competition without their stars that play in European leagues.
Queiroz gave the opportunity to young players to show their talents in the Arab Cup, with many making their debuts with the national team.
Amr El-Solia vs. Ferjani Sassi
The Pharaohs and Carthage Eagles have high-calibre elements, but the midfield players will play a key role in the confrontation. That said, the game promises to see a renewed mini battle between Tunisia’s former Zamalek midfielder Ferjani Sassi and Egypt’s Al Ahly midfielder Amr El-Solia.
During the current Arab Cup, El-Solia and Sassi participated in all the matches of both teams. Queiroz has relied heavily on El-Solia as an essential and indispensable element in the Pharaohs team since he assumed the position. The same goes for Sassi who is always in Tunisia’s line-up.
The upcoming match will not be the first between El-Solia and Sassi, because the pair previously met in nine previous games. However, El-Solia was on the bench in Egypt’s 3-2 victory over Tunisia in November 2018 during the AFCON qualifiers.
“All the teams in this tournament are strong. We’re now focused on the Tunisia match. I hope we’ll all be ready for it and that we can go on to reach the final and win it,” said Egypt captain El-Solia
Special match for Tunisian quartet
The meeting of the Carthage Eagles and the Pharaohs will be particularly special for Tunisians Ali Maaloul, Seifeddine Jaziri, Ferjani Sassi, and Hamza Mathlouthi. Both Jaziri and Mathlouthi currently play for Egypt’s Zamalek, while Maaloul plies his trade with fellow Cairo club Al Ahly. For his part, Sassi was one of Zamalek’s most prominent players last year before his move to Al Duhail in Qatar.
Jaziri presented distinguished level with his country’s team in the past matches, as he contributed greatly to the Tunisian qualification for the Arab Cup semi-finals. He has scored four goals with the Tunisian national team so far, making him the top scorer in the tournament.
In the quarter-finals, Jaziri scored his fourth goal in the tournament, against Oman, in the match that ended with Tunisia winning 2-1.
With this performance, Jaziri would return to Zamalek with great spirits. He is expected to play a great role in the Zamalek attacking line in the upcoming matches, whether in the local league or in the group stage in the CAF Champions League, especially as Zamalek’s French coach Patrice Carteron trusts the player.