Salah-less Egypt brace for stiff challenge against DR Congo in AFCON round of 16


FOOTBALL Salah-less Egypt brace for stiff challenge against DR Congo in AFCON round of 16

Festus Chuma 10:03 - 28.01.2024

Egypt faces DR Congo in a challenging Round of 16 match at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, with the clash set to kick off at 11pm.

Seven-time Africa champions Egypt are gearing up for a crucial face-off against DR Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) this Sunday.

Despite being injury-hit and missing the dynamism of Liverpool’s star winger Mohamed Salah, the Pharaohs are determined to edge closer to their eighth title in this nail-biting contest at the Stade Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro.

The absence of key players such as first-choice goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy and midfielder Emam Ashour has posed significant challenges for the Egyptian squad.

Adding to the concerns is Eintracht Frankfurt forward Omar Marmoush’s doubtful status, following a cold he picked up on the eve of the game.

However, the team managed to secure their place in the knockout stage by finishing second in Group B, courtesy of three consecutive draws.

In this scenario, the spotlight turns to Mahmoud Hassan, commonly known as Trezeguet. With Salah sidelined, Trezeguet’s role in Egypt’s attack becomes pivotal. His performance could be a game-changer for the Pharaohs, who are looking to capitalize on every opportunity upfront.

Egypt’s Portuguese coach, Rui Vitoria, expressed his views on the team's current situation.

“We are aware that we’re not entering this match at our full strength. But despite the setbacks and a streak of bad luck, our ambition remains undeterred. We are prepared to showcase our qualities and overcome the challenges ahead,” he stated.

On the other side of the pitch, DR Congo, making a comeback to this level of competition since 2019, is not to be underestimated.

Under the guidance of coach Sébastien Desabre, the Leopards have shown resilience, securing their spot in the knockout stage with three draws.

Desabre acknowledged Egypt's favoritism but remained optimistic about DR Congo's prospects.

“Egypt might be the favorites, but we relish our role as challengers. We have areas to improve, and my players are highly motivated. We aim to demonstrate that DR Congo is a force to be reckoned with,” he remarked.

A major concern for DR Congo is their conversion rate in front of the goal. This aspect could be crucial in determining the outcome of their clash with Egypt.

Cédric Bakambu and his teammates are well aware of the stakes and the expectations resting on their shoulders.

Yoane Wissa, who has scored once in the tournament so far, will be a key figure for DR Congo. His ability to find the back of the net could provide the much-needed momentum for his team to advance into the quarter-finals.

Historically, Egypt has a dominant record against DR Congo, with eight wins, three draws, and only one loss in their 12 encounters.

This statistic, however, might mean little in the unpredictable nature of knockout football, where every match writes its own story.

As the clock ticks towards this much-anticipated clash, both teams are aware of what’s at stake. For Egypt, it is about proving that they can still be a formidable force even without their talisman, Salah. For DR Congo, it is an opportunity to upset the odds and stamp their authority in the tournament. 

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