Date: Wednesday 26th June
Stadium: Cairo Int’l Stadium
Referee: Victor Gomes (South Africa)
Despite his side making hard work of overcoming Zimbabwe last week, Egypt head coach Javier Aguirre said after the match that the win is all that mattered.
Marwan Mohsen, Abdallah El-Said and star man Mohamed Salah all had good chances to score, but they could not find a way past the visitors’ inspired keeper Edmore Sibanda.
In the end, Trezeguet’s goal just before half time proved the difference between the sides, ensuring that the hosts got off to a winning start in front of a packed crowd.
After seeing his players drop off in the final quarter of the game, though, Aguirre has called for an improved performance against Congo DR, who are 60 places better off than Zimbabwe in the FIFA rankings.
Egypt have now lost only one of their last 26 games in the Africa Cup of Nations – against Cameroon in the 2017 final – and another victory on Wednesday will allow Aguirre to turn focus towards the last 16.
Salah may not have got off the mark against Zimbabwe, meanwhile, but he has still been involved in four of his side’s last six goals in the biennial showpiece – two goals of his own and two assists.
If the competition’s most successful side are to land an eighth crown, they will need their superstar forward to find his groove.
Recent form in AFCON: W
Recent form (all competitions): WDLWWW
Egypt possible starting lineup:
El-Shenawy; Elmohamady, Alaa, Hegazi, Ashraf; Hamed, Elneny; Salah, El Said, Trezeguet; Mohsen
Congo DR’s players were forced to apologise to supporters following their shock loss to Uganda, which leaves them playing catch up in Group A.
Skipper Youssouf Mulumbu described the defeat as “humiliating” and has vowed to make amends to the 90 million population of Congo, starting with victory over the much-fancied tournament hosts.
The good news for Congo DR is that they have not lost two games in a row at this stage of the competition since the 2004 edition when losing three on the spin.
With Zimbabwe to face in their final group match later in the week, the Leopards need to get off the mark in Cairo on Wednesday.
A disrupted build-up to their meeting with Uganda, with the final training session on the eve of the match being cancelled because of logistical reasons, clearly did not help.
Florent Ibenge knows that the pressure is on to put things right if Congo DR are to progress out of the group phase for the third in succession.
Third-place finishers in 2015, Congo DR are facing an early exit from this year’s AFCON unless they can down Egypt and well and truly shake up Group A.
Recent form in AFCON: L
Recent form (all competitions): DDWDDL
Congo DR possible starting lineup:
Matampi; Mpeko, Luyindama, Tisserand, Masuaku; Bokadi; Elia, Mbemba, M’Poku, Bolasie; Assombalonga
Head To Head
Egypt have won two of their last three games against Congo DR in the Africa Cup of Nations, losing the other.
The Leopards are the only team to have eliminated Egypt at the AFCON when the Pharaohs have hosted the tournament, doing so in the semi-finals of the 1974 edition – the last time Congo DR lifted the cup.
Not since March 2012 have the sides faced off, with that friendly match finishing goalless.