Egypt look to add a sev­enth Af­con crown but will be wary of Mozam­bique

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - BY SAMM AUDU

SIX-TIME cham­pi­ons Egypt hope to have a foot into the next round of the Africa Cup of Na­tions with a win over Mozam­bique in a Group C fix­ture at the Om­baka Sta­dium in Benguela to­day.

The Pharaohs got off to a winning start in An­gola against pow­er­house Nige­ria.

It was a dream start for a team in­jury has robbed of the ser­vices of stars like Mo­hamed Aboutrika and Amr Zaki. Coach Has­san She­hata ad­mit­ted that he missed both play­ers but his tar­get re­mains to com­plete a per­sonal hat-trick of Na­tions Cup tri­umphs.

“We miss play­ers like Aboutrika and Zaki, but that will not make us lose fo­cus from our tar­get to suc­cess­fully de­fend our crown in An­gola,” de­clared She­hata, who led Egypt to win the con­ti­nen­tal tro­phy in 2006 and 2008. “It was great to be­gin with a win against a big team like Nige­ria, but that match is now in the past and we have to look for­ward to winning our next games, beginning with the match against Mozam­bique.”

Borus­sia Dort­mund striker Mo­hamed Zi­dan, play­ing only his sec­ond Na­tions Cup, has thus been en­trusted with even big­ger re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the ab­sence of Zaki and Mido, while strike part­ner Emad Mo­taeb si­lenced his crit­ics with a solid show­ing against Nige­ria. How­ever, mid­field­ers Hosni Ab­drabou and Hos­sam Ghaly have fallen sick in An­gola, with Ab­drabou, voted the best player at Ghana 2008, hard­est hit as he was un­able to train on Wed­nes­day. Both ex­pected to be fit for this en­counter.

Against Mozam­bique, She­hata is most likely to pick the same team which bat­tled from a goal down against Nige­ria to win 3-1.

But the Mam­bas from Mozam­bique have even be­fore An­gola 2010 proved they can hold their own against some of Africa’s top teams like the Ivory Coast, Tu­nisia and Nige­ria.

They are back among the con­ti­nent’s foot­ball elite 12 years af­ter their last ap­pear­ance in Burk­ina Faso and their con­fi­dence would have re­ceived a boost af­ter they fought back from a two-goal deficit af­ter 20 min­utes to draw with Benin.

“Ev­ery game for us in An­gola is a cup fi­nal and so will be the game against Egypt,” said Dutch coach Mart Nooij, who has been cred­ited with the south­ern African team’s re­cent ex­ploits. “I was a bit sur­prised by how eas­ily Nige­ria lost to Egypt, but we will fight be­cause we have pre­pared very well for this tour­na­ment and that was why for the first 20 min­utes, the play­ers, who were so full of en­ergy, lost their head for Benin to go in front. How­ever, we played a won­der­ful sec­ond half to draw the game.”

Nooij said his game plan against the Pharaohs is to man­mark their fast for­wards.

“We will man-mark Egypt for­wards be­cause they are so fast,” he said. “We will try to de­fend well, hit back on the break and see what we can get from the game. We hope we can clinch a pos­i­tive re­sult.”

The Mozam­bi­cans, in skip­per Manuel Bu­cuane aka Tiko Tiko and striker Dario Mon­teiro, have two of the most ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers in An­gola as both play­ers fea­tured at Burk­ina Faso ’98. – Sapa-AFP

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