Egypt’s national football team will face Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday in the round of 16 of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) that is being hosted by Cameroon. Japoma Stadium in Douala will host the clash, which can accommodate about 38,000 spectators.
The match will be the first confrontation between the two teams since 2008 AFCON in Ghana, which ended with the Pharaohs winning 4-1.
The Egyptian team faced Côte d’Ivoire in the 1986, 1998, 2006, and 2008 editions of AFCON, and the irony is that the national team won the four titles after overcoming the Elephants in the knockout stages.
As for the game, Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese Coach of the Pharaohs, refused to change the national team’s formation ahead of the match, sticking to the 4/3/3 against Côte d’Ivoire, which proved ineffective against Nigeria, who defeated the Pharaohs with one clean goal.
Queiroz was keen to talk to the players of his team, stressing that the opponent is not terrifying, and the match is within reach, evidenced by the fact that Côte d’Ivoire suffered against Sierra Leone in the first match of the AFCON and drew 2-2, and won with great difficulty over Equatorial Guinea in the second match with a clean goal.
Physical fitness and the difference in speed are the biggest threat to the Egyptian team in this match. It was also clarified through recent training that Queiroz has a tendency to rely on the speed of Mohamed Salah, the star of the national team and Liverpool, where the focus is on linking Salah and the midfielders, specifically Mohamed Elneny and Amr Al-Sulayya, with the aim of taking advantage of Salah’s speed to reach the goal post.
Queiroz decided to push Ahmed Sayed Zizou in the basic formation of the Pharaohs tonight, as he is good at defensive and offensive roles, unlike Abdullah Al-Saeed, who tends to favour offense at the expense of defence.
The coach also asked his players to take advantage of the gap Gislan Konan creates, as the Côte d’Ivoire left back also favours offense at the expense of defence, which creates large spaces in the Elephants’ defence and may create opportunities for Egypt to shake the Ivorian net.
The team is scheduled to play the match with a formation consisting of Mohamed El-Shennawy, Ayman Ashraf, Ahmed Hegazy, Mohamed Abdel Moneim, Omar Kamal, Amr Al-Sulayya, Mohamed Elneny, Ahmed Sayed Zizou, Mohamed Salah, Omar Marmoush, and Mustafa Mohamed.
According to what was announced by the CAF, the Congolese Jean-Jacques Ndala will be the referee of the game, assisted by his compatriots Oliver Savary and Solomon Alameddine from the Comoros and Helder Martinez as the fourth referee.
The Ethiopian Pamlak Tsema will assume the task of the VAR, assisted by the Mexican Fernando Guerrero and the Senegalese Alhaji Malik Samba.
Egypt have upper hand in AFCON
Egyptian fans are waiting with bated breath for an exciting confrontation between the Egyptian national team and Cote d’Ivoire, which is scheduled for this evening.
This will be the first confrontation between the two teams since the 2008 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Championship in Ghana, which ended with the Pharaohs winning 4-1.
Cote d’Ivoire is leading its group after beating the returning champion Algeria. On the other hand, Egypt is second with 4 points, behind leaders Nigeria.
The Egyptian team won the AFCON in four editions, in which it met the Ivorian giants during the crowning process in the tournament.
Throughout the history of the ACON, Egypt and Côte d’Ivoire have clashed 10 times, with the Pharaohs winning seven matches, the Elephants winning one, and the remaining two ending in draws.
The first confrontation between Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire ended 3-1 in the bronze medal match in Sudan in 1970.
The Egyptian national team repeated the victory with two goals without a response in the 1974 AFCON in Egypt, and 2-1 in the 1980 and 1984 editions.
The Pharaohs also won 2-0 in the 1986 edition in the first round and went on to win the title.
The Elephants did win once, 3-1, in the first round of the 1990 edition.
Egypt reclaimed the crown in Burkina Faso in 1998, when it defeated Côte d’Ivoire in the quarterfinals with penalties.
The 2006 edition that was hosted in Egypt also witnessed the Pharaohs and Elephants encounter twice. In the first, the Pharaohs won 3-1 in the group stage, then went on to defeat them again in the final.
Finally, the Egyptian team swept the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire 4-1 in the semi-finals of the 2008 AFCON.
Mo Salah dreams of winning AFCON
Mohamed Salah, the Captain of Egypt, is the nineteenth leader of Egypt in the African championship and has mentioned many times his aspirations to lift the AFCON trophy.
The first leader of the Pharaohs in the AFCON tournaments was Hanafi Bastan in the first editions of the tournament in 1957, in which the Pharaohs were crowned, while Saleh Selim carried the captaincy in the 1959 and 1962 editions, and the 1963 edition was carried by Rifaat Al-Fanajily.
In the 1970 edition, Al-Shawakish star Mustafa Riad carried the captain’s badge for the national team. The badge then remained in the Tersana Castle in the 1974 edition, when it was work by Hassan El-Shazly.
Taha Basri then received the captain’s armband in the 1978 edition, followed by Hassan Shehata in 1980. After that, Mahmoud Al-Khatib wore it in 1984, followed by Mustafa Abdo in 1986 and Gamal Abdel Hamid in 1988 and 1992. As for the 1990 edition, Thabet Al-Batal wore the badge.
Ahmed Schuber then received the badge in 1994, followed by Ahmed Al-Kas in 1996 and Hossam Hassan in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2006; after which, it went to Hadi Khashaba in 2004.
As for the 2008 and 2010 editions, the band was carried by the falcon Ahmed Hassan, while in the 2017 edition, Essam El-Hadary carried it and then handed it to Ahmed Al-Mohammadi in 2019.
Nigeria is at the top of Group D with 6 points, followed by Egypt with 3 points, then Guinea Bissau and Sudan with a point each.
The victory over Sudan gave the Egyptian team a ticket for direct qualification to the round of 16, regardless of the outcome of the Nigeria-Guinea-Bissau match. In this case, the Pharaohs pass with 6 points, behind Nigeria, to outperform the Eagles in the direct confrontation, even if they lose against Guinea.
Haller leads Ivorian forward line
The marketing value of the Côte d’Ivoire team was €298.70m, equivalent to EGP 5.325m. The value of Egypt’s national team was €161.25m.
There are some players in the Côte d’Ivoire team who represent the strengths in the ranks of the Elephants, led by Sebastian Haller — the Ajax striker and the Champions League’ top scorer for the 2021/2022 season — Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, AC Milan midfielder Frank Kessie, Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Sanjar, and Arsenal striker Nicolas Pepe.
Côte d’Ivoire started its campaign in the AFCON by defeating Equatorial Guinea thanks to Max Gradel’s missile shot from the edge of the penalty area that the Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper could not stop.
The Elephants then fell into the trap of a tie against Sierra Leone in the second match, with two goals for Côte d’Ivoire Sebastian Helier and Nicolas Pepe in the 25th and 56th minutes, while Sierra Leone’s goals came through Moussa Kamara and Hajj Kamara in the 55th and 90th minutes.
Côte d’Ivoire then swept Algeria in the third match with three goals against a goal, the first goal coming from Frank Casey in the 21st minute of the match, before Ibrahim Sinjari added the second goal in the 39th minute and Nicholas Pepe took it home with the third.