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After a very disappointing entry into the CAN-2022 against Nigeria, which ended in defeat (1-0), Egypt must show a better face on Saturday against Guinea-Bissau. In the other Group D match, Nigeria, which offered an attractive game, can already secure its ticket to the 8th round against Sudan.
Egypt missed its start to CAN-2022 by recording a first defeat against Nigeria (1-0). For the Pharaohs, seven times champions of Africa, this introduction is a new disappointment after the nightmare of elimination at home in the round of 16 by South Africa, during the previous edition.
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was particularly disappointing, touching very few balls. Muzzled by the Nigeria defense, “Moh” Salah only created one chance. In his defense, he does not have partners of the same caliber in the national team as in Liverpool. Mohamed Salah needs to develop his complicity with his partners in selection if he wants to have a chance to cross later in the competition the Senegal of his partner Sadio Mané.
Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz, hired in September to replace Hossam El-Badry, admitted that against Nigeria “the performance was very poor, it’s the truth, in the first half we weren’t sure field”. But he supports his leader, “the best player on the planet at the moment”, even apologizing for this crime of lèse-majesté to his “friend Cristiano Ronaldo”, laughs the Portuguese. The coach is also counting on the “winning mentality” that “Mohamed Salah has and can instil in the whole team”.
And to breathe new life into the Pharaohs, the match on Saturday January 15 against Guinea-Bissau seems well within their reach. In progress, the Lycaons approach their third CAN in a row, they who had never played it before, but they have never won a match in the competition and remain on a 0-0 against Sudan.
Even if the 24-team formula and the repechage of the four best third out of six do not threaten Egypt’s qualification, they are already in danger of finding a very tough opponent on their way from the round of 16, with Algeria holding the title or the Ivory Coast.
“It’s hard to see yourself as a favourite”
For its part, Nigeria, another heavyweight in Group D, created a sensation for its debut in the CAN. By muzzling Egypt, the Super Eagles produced the best impression of the title contenders, despite a lackluster final half hour. Unleashed in his left lane, the Nantes winger Moses Simon in particular made the Pharaohs see all the colors. Striker Kelechi Iheanacho also made an impression by signing a sumptuous goal, a control-recovery sequence in the top corner.
Nigeria can therefore approach their second match against the modest team of Sudan with full confidence. But for the coach, Augustine Eguavoen, his team must keep a cool head. “It’s true that we took the three points against Egypt, but if you want to consider us the favourites, I think it’s too early. We are focused on the next game. see as a favorite, this tournament is a marathon and we are only in the first match”, he tempered Friday in a press conference.
At his side, Moses Simon agreed: “We want to take the matches after the others. For the moment, it is too early to say that we are favorites”. The player however admitted that the selection could not have started better: “We are well in our heads. There are no small teams in Africa, we will play to win”. If successful, the Super Eagles will already qualify for the knockout stages of the African Cup.