The hosts entertain South Africa in their Round of 16 fixture at Cairo International Stadium on July 6. Egypt has enjoyed a remarkable campaign thus far and look set to claim a record-stretching eighth Africa Cup of Nations title.
South Africa would have to pull off an extraordinary performance to qualify for the next round against Pharaohs - who have managed five goals and three clean sheets during the group phase. On the other hand, Bafana Bafana had an average league campaign, finishing third in their group behind Morocco and Ivory Coast. They managed to qualify as one of the best-placed third sides in their respective groups.
Stuart Baxter, South Africa's coach, has initiated the mind games by mentioning that Egypt's exit against them would be a "national disaster". His comments read as follows-
“The fact that we’re playing against the home nation is inspiring,”
“Knowing the Egyptian people, knowing their passion for football, knowing their expectations are very high, knowing that they have some great players, I believe that the pressure would be more on them because for them it would be a national disaster if South Africa beat them, for us it would very disappointing.”
Key Match Facts
This will be the third clash between Egypt and South Africa, with the former side claiming victories in the previous two.
Egypt have qualified for the next stage in 11 of their last 12 games in the knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations (W9 D2)
South Africa have won only two of their previous 18 AFCON games (D7 L9).
Last five matches, including all competitions.
South Africa: W-D-L-W-L
Javier Aguirre has a few selection headaches ahead Egypt's Round of 16 contest against South Africa. Their striker, Ahmed Hassan, was subbed off after playing just 25 minutes against Uganda, said to be suffering from an ankle injury.
Mahmoud Hamdy also suffered a knock in his ankle during the preparations ahead of South Africa clash.
The most talked about issue is Mohamed Salah, who missed the last few days' training due to cold. But, Aguirre has mentioned that Salah was rested as a precautionary measure. Thankfully, Egypt is without any suspensions ahead of their knockout match.
Injuries: Mohamed Salah (Cold- with good chances of being fit), Ahmed Hassan (ankle), Mahmoud Hamdy (ankle).
Egypt's manager might revert to his favoured 4-2-3-1 after using a 4-3-3 shape against Uganda. With Ahmed Hassan ruled put, Marwan Mohsen is almost certain to feature in fourth consecutive AFCON game in the number nine role.
Mohamed Salah is set to occupy the right forward's role with Abdallah Said and Mahmoud Hasan operating as a number ten and left winger respectively. Arsenal's Mohamed Eleny and Tarek Hamed will form midfield's engine.
Amid El-Wensh's absence, Mahmoud Alaa is set to partner Ahmed Hegazy in central defence with skipper Ahmed Elmohamady marshalling the right flank. Ayman Ashraf is set to be deployed as a left-back for the fourth consecutive game. There are no issues in the goalkeeping department as Mohamed El-Shenawy set to start between the sticks.
Predicted XI(4-2-3-1): Mohamed El-Shenawy, Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Hegazy, Mahmoud Elaa, Ayman Ashraf, Mohamed Elneny, Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Salah, Abdallah Said, Mahmoud Hassan 'Trezeguet', Marwan Mohsen.
Paul Merson has predicted the results for Chelsea vs Tottenham and other GW 2 fixtures! Click here