Africa Cup of Nations – Egypt Preview

 

Playing squad

Incredibly, Essam El Hadary (143 caps!) is still strutting his stuff in goal for Egypt at the age of 43. And there’s no signs of him slowing down either because his ambition is to become the oldest ever player to feature in a World Cup next year in Russia. The backline will contain players mostly based in Asia but contains plenty of experience and should work well together as a unit. Egypt have a pretty good defensive record since Hector Cuper took over as coach at the start of 2015. One of their most recognisable players is defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny who plays for Arsenal. He’s also one of the most capped players in the current squad.

Going forward, the standout star is Roma’s Mohamed Salah. The ex Chelsea man struggled to make an impact in the EPL but he’s been great in Italy and has a superb record at international level. Egypt will hope he comes up really big in this tournament. The Pharaoh's usually play in a 4-4-2 formation and the big question is who will partner Saleh upfront. Bassem Morsi has been the starter in recent matches but is surprisingly left out of the squad. They will need someone else such as Ahmed Hassan or Ramadan Sobhi to step up and make an impact. Egypt have scored in most meaningful games since Cuper took over and I think they will surprise people in the final third with some decent technical skills.

Draw and outlook

The last three times Egypt entered the African Nations Cup they finished as winners. The Pharaoh's have surprisingly been in the wilderness since 2010 though, failing to qualify for any of the last three editions since their superb hat-trick. But things are now much better for them and they've even started the recent World Cup qualifying campaign with 2/2 wins, including a vital 2-0 victory against Ghana. They beat off Nigeria to qualify for this African Nations and shouldn't in any way be underestimated. Egypt are often an underrated team and usually play very well together as a unit, which can be a crucial factor in an African Nations Cup. They have great spirit and historically a lot of their players aren’t well known. Nowadays, a few more guys are recognised but at least half of their squad is still based in Asia and will be unfamiliar to most viewers. They have lucked out with the draw too and will fancy themselves to go well. The recent win against Ghana should give them confidence ahead of a rematch in Group D. Any sort of progression would ensure they avoid the big teams from Group A or B until at least the semi finals. Egypt have a fantastic record in this tournament and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they had a deep run, or even won the event.

Group prediction: 1st

Overall prediction: Runners up