The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on January 9 in Cameroon, but for Nigerians, their focus will be on Group D, where Nigeria have been drawn.
The Super Eagles have been drawn alongside Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau. They open their campaign with a titanic clash against the Pharaohs.
Ahead of the match, Soccernet gives a lowdown on Egypt and their history in the competition.
How they qualified
Egypt qualified as Group G winners without losing a match. The Pharaohs finished with 12 points, three ahead of Comoros, who finished second.
The Egyptians won three matches and drew three to finish as unbeaten winners in a group that also had Togo and Kenya.
Egypt are the most successful team in AFCON’s history, having won the competition seven times- two more than second-placed Cameroon.
However, the Pharaohs have not won the competition since the last of their three successive titles in 2010. Egypt had won the competition three consecutive times between 2006-2010 to seal their dominance as the best African team of the 2000s.
AFCON 2021 Squad
Egypt’s squad comprises mainly the home-based players, with 19 of them in the 28-man list. However, the focus will be on Mohamed Salah, who is arguably the best player in the world right now.
The 29-year-old has been exceptional for Liverpool since he signed for the club in 2017, but he has taken it to another level this season.
Egypt will hope Salah can bring his excellent form into the AFCON. The Egyptians also have a strong Manchester United presence in their team as they are currently managed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant, Carlos Queiroz.
As stated above, there’s no other player than Mo Salah. Egypt’s hopes of winning an unprecedented eighth AFCON title rest on his shoulders.
And the good thing for the team is that Salah has already stated that Egypt’s mission is to win back the title they lost in 2012.
Salah can rely on a decent supporting cast like Mohamed Eleny of Arsenal and Aston Villa’s Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet.
Queiroz was appointed as Egypt’s coach in September 2021. The Portuguese tactician is a seasoned coach with a good CV.
He served as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson in two separate spells at Manchester United. He also managed Real Madrid between 2003-2004.
At the international level, Queiroz has managed his native Portugal, leading them to the 2010 World Cup. He is the longest-serving manager in Iran’s football history, managing them at the 2014 World Cup.
The 68-year-old also had a short spell with Colombia. Queiroz has already faced Nigeria on one occasion, but there was no winner in that contest as Iran played out a goalless draw with the Super Eagles at the 2014 World Cup.
Queiroz is known for his pragmatic style of football. He believes in balance and stability first before any other thing.
He likes his teams to be defensively solid, which is why it is always difficult to score against them. Egypt conceded just three goals during the qualifying series for the AFCON.
However, the former South Africa coach recently stated that he wants his players to be adaptable as that is the quality of a modern football team.
“Modern football does not depend on one method, whether 4-4-2 or otherwise, but there must be an organized process for defence and attack, Queiroz said as per King Fut.
“We don’t set a specific system for the players, but the players must adapt to more than one system.”
The Portuguese has tried to play down Egypt’s expectations, but the Egyptians may disagree, considering they have the best player in the world and their pedigree in the competition.
For Egypt, the goal will always be to win the title, even if Queiroz disagrees. However, with the likes of Senegal, Algeria and Morocco also in the tournament, a semi-final finish will represent success for the team.
Egypt’s AFCON 2021 Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Mohamed Sobhi (Pharco FC), Mohamed Abogabal (Zamalek), Mahmoud Gad (ENPPI).
Defenders: Ahmed Fatouh, Mahmoud Alaa, Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh (Zamalek), Ayman Ashraf, Akram Tawfik, (Al Ahly), Omar Kamal, Mohamed Abdel-Moneim (Future), Ahmed Hegazi (Ittihad Jeddah), Mohamed Hamdi (Pyramids).
Midfielders: Hamdi Fathi, Amr El-Sulya (Al Ahly), Emam Ashour, Ahmed Sayed Zizo (Zamalek), Abdallah El-Said, Ramadan Sobhi, Ibrahim Adel (Pyramids), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Omar Marmoush (VfB Stuttgart), Mohanad Lasheen (Tala’a El-Gaish), Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet (Aston Villa).
Forwards: Mostafa Mohamed (Galatasaray), Mohamed Sherif (Al Ahly), Marwan Hamdi (Smouha).