AFCON 2021: Egypt Look To Deny Morocco First Semi-final Appearance In 17 Years

AFCON 2021: Egypt Look To Deny Morocco First Semi-final Appearance In 17 Years

Egypt and Morocco go head to head at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on Sunday, as they eye a place in the semi-finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

This will be the first meeting between the sides since 2017, when Morocco cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory in the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers and the Atlas Lions will be hoping for a repeat of that result.

Egypt picked up their biggest result at this year’s AFCON last Wednesday when they edged Côte d’Ivoire 5-4 on penalties after 120 minutes of football ended goalless.

The last time the Pharaohs secured passage into the last four was at the 2017 edition where they went on to lose to Cameroon in the final.

As hosts of the 2019 tournament, the seven-time African champions were stunned 1-0 by South Africa in the round of 16.

For Morocco, they will hope to make a first AFCON semi-final appearance since the 2004 edition held in Tunisia.

Since their last berth in the semis 17 years ago, they have gone on to crash out in the group stage at the 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2013 editions, quarter-finals in 2017 and round of 16 in 2019.

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However, Morocco will be banking on the fact they been dominant in the history of this fixture, claiming 14 wins and losing just three in the last 29 meetings between the teams.

On the injury front, Egypt could be without Hamdi Fathi, who is a doubt after he was brought off midway through the game against Côte d’Ivoire through injury.

Should the Al Ahly man fail to recover in time for the game, his replacement Zizocould come into the mix for his first starting appearance at the tournament.

The Pharaohs will also take to the pitch without Akram Tawfik as the 24-year-old has been out of action since picking up an injury in the opening game against Nigeria.

On their part, Morocco could parade a similar side against the Pharaohs, meaning the attacking duo of Ayoub El Kaabi and En-Nesyri could keep their place.

And Paris Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi, who did very well against Malawi, is expected to start and team up with the likes of Nayef Aguerd and Adam Masina at the defensive end of the pitch.

And speaking ahead of the big clash, Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodžić revealed they have come up with different plans on how to stop Mohamed Salah.

“The match will be a tactical war, as Egypt has a lot of experience. We were able to come back in the matches in which we conceded first, and I promise you that our attack will improve.

“We have developed different plans on how to stop Mohamed Salah, and reduce the threat he poses.”

He added: “We’re expecting great support from the fans. For my part, I will develop the best plan and the best tactics to win and make the Moroccan fans happy.

“Bringing the match forward by an hour may affect the players, so we programmed our training sessions at four o’clock this week, but this is not an excuse, as our opponent also have to deal with this.

“We were fortunate to stay in Yaounde, the accommodation and the services provided are good and the pitch of the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium is up to par.”

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