Egypt After Third Consecutive ANC Title

The past decade has seen Egypt begin to regard themselves as the omnipotent force in African football. But now the ‘Pharaohs’ will have to recover from another punishing blow on the world stage, as World Cup qualification still eludes them, if they want to retain their title for a third successive year.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

When Egypt won the tournament they hosted in 2006, the odd eyebrow was raised as to the credentials of the new African champions; with the side scraping through to the final after defeating Senegal 2-1, a match in which Senegal were refused a penalty in the dying minutes. The hosts went on to beat the Ivory Coast in the final by the unconvincing means of a penalty shootout.

However, two years after the win, Egypt retained the title, precluding any doubts. And the penultimate hurdle in 2008 was cleared in much more convincing fashion this time round, with a 4-1 thrashing of the Ivory Coast. Mohamed Aboutrika scored the only goal in the resultant final clash with Cameroon, handing Egypt their sixth title, a feat unequaled in the African Cup of Nations. The consecutive wins equaled the achievements of the 1950’s, when the ‘Pharaohs’ won the inaugural tournament in 1957, and then again in 1959.

Road to Angola

Egypt’s qualifying campaign began with a disappointing draw at home to Zambia in front of 70,000 fans. They then travelled to Algeria in a North African derby, one of the most fierce on the international stage. The visitors’ second half demise gave Algeria a 3-1 victory, and Egypt’s prospects looked far from rosy.

Back to back wins secured ‘ACN’ qualification, but, after beating Algeria 2-0 and finishing on level points, goal difference, and goals scored, a play-off was needed to decide the nations’ World Cup fate. Both matches were met with searing tempers and crowd riots, with Egypt’s win in the first being overshadowed by fans hurling stones at the Algeria team bus. The second preceded Egyptian headlines of ‘machete-wielding crowds’, and chaos ensued on the streets. So if these two meet in the tournament itself, it will certainly be one to watch, but maybe not at the ground…

The Group

In the first match of Group C, Egypt meet Nigeria. Expect this to be a pivotal match for both teams’ hopes, with the winner certain to be confident of topping the group.

Nigeria

Manager Shaibu Amodu is certainly a man under pressure as Nigeria travel to Angola. The fans have very much turned against him, so it will just be a question of whether he can motivate his players, as they certainly have quality within their squad. With a strong attacking line, the ‘Super Eagles’ are bound to score goals, and just need to become a resilient force at the back.

Key man: John Obi Mikel

Mozambique

Having already shut Nigeria out in qualification, Mozambique will certainly be confident of keeping it tight at the back, and so their hopes will undoubtedly lie in the hands of Dario, who will have the job of leading the line. The ‘Mambas’ will make a stern defensive line a priority, and if they can grab the odd goal on the counter, then they cannot be written off just yet.

Key man: Dario

Benin

Benin managed to finish second in a tough qualifying group which paired them with Ghana, Mali and Sudan; defeating Ghana along the way. However, ‘Les Écureuils’ could struggle due to their lack of big match experience, having never qualified for the ‘ANC’ until 2004. Another problem they will have to overcome is their lack of goals. Despite an impressive finishing position, Benin only hit the back of the net six times in as many games, and they will be desperate for Razak Omotoyossi to be on the very top echelon of form. The striker’s goals could decide their fate.

Key man: Stephane Sessegnon

So on paper at least, looks as if Egypt will have no trouble progressing. But the group is not to be underestimated as the matches will be tough, if unspectacular. Even so, the ‘Pharaohs’ should qualify alongside Nigeria. After that it will become more difficult. In recent years, Egypt have been unrivalled on the continent, due to their very ‘un-African’ creativity and wonderful football. But this time round it could be a different story, with the likes of Cameroon posing a greater threat. A semi-final spot is still the least they expect, though, and I wouldn’t put a third consecutive title past them.

One Response to “Egypt After Third Consecutive ANC Title”

  1. ANC Feedback Says:

    good read, nice group analysis and team history
    just didn’t flow quite right for me

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