JOHANNESBURG: Mohamed Salah, in prolific variety for Liverpool this season, will lead Egypt in opposition to bogey crew Nigeria in a blockbuster Workforce D opener on the Africa Cup of International locations in Cameroon. Salah leads all scorers within the Premier League this season with 16 objectives, together with one within the 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Sunday, his final fit sooner than leaving for west Africa. Even though Egypt have received a report seven Cup of International locations titles, they’ve triumphed simplest two times in seven clashes with three-time champions Nigeria within the pageant forward of the January 11 showdown. Right here, AFP Game places the highlight at the 4 Workforce D contenders. The gang winners and runners-up are confident of last-16 puts whilst the most productive 4 third-placed groups from the six teams additionally qualify.
The Pharaohs’ Portuguese trainer Carlos Queiroz has subsidized Aston Villa ahead Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan to polish on the Cup of International locations despite the fact that he has no longer performed a complete senior fit since mid-April because of damage. The 27-year-old used to be an unused exchange in 3 Premier League fits all the way through December sooner than coming off the bench for a cameo look in opposition to Brentford. “Trezeguet is an skilled and just right participant,” former Actual Madrid supervisor and two times Manchester United assistant supervisor Queiroz mentioned. “I’m certain he’ll be a key determine for us.” Not like maximum Cameroon-bound groups, Egypt will depend closely on home-based stars, opting for 19 and simplest six founded in a foreign country, together with Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
A chaotic build-up for Nigeria has integrated a transformation of coaches, the lack of a celeb ahead as a result of they asked his unencumber too overdue, and the withdrawal of a number of key avid gamers because of COVID and accidents. German Gernot Rohr used to be sacked after the Tremendous Eagles scraped into the overall spherical of 2022 Global Cup qualifying and Augustine Eguavoen, who performed for Nigeria on the 1994 Global Cup, has been positioned in brief rate.
He should do with out in-form Emmanuel Dennis as a result of Premier League membership Watford say Nigeria didn’t alert them in time that they have been settling on him, and coronavirus has dominated out any other common scorer, Victor Osimhen of Italian membership Napoli. However Nigeria are by no means extra bad than when all turns out misplaced. They possess a squad able to successful the Cup of International locations, or creating a humiliating last-16 go out.
The Djurtus (wild canines), for many years an African soccer light-weight, have reached the finals a 3rd consecutive time underneath trainer Baciro Cande. Gritty opponents in qualifiers, the west Africans have struggled on the upper stage of the finals, securing only one level from each and every earlier look. However a crew skippered by means of goalkeeper Jonas Mendes can be hopeful of a primary win after they get started in opposition to Sudan, a country they hammered 4-2 in a Global Cup qualifier in Omdurman final September. Mendes and forwards Piqueti and Frederic Mendy have been a part of the 2017 and 2019 campaigns and Porto full-back Nanu and midfielder Moreto Cassama, from French Ligue 1 membership Reims, are attainable stars.
One-time champions Sudan are again after a 10-year absence having used aerial energy to disenchanted South Africa in a key qualifier. The Jediane Falcons reached the 2012 quarter-finals, however it’s tricky to consider them repeating that feat underneath new trainer Burhan Tia. He succeeded Frenchman Hubert Velud, who paid the fee for winless Global Cup and Arab Cup workforce campaigns. Salah-less Egypt hammered Sudan 5-0 within the Arab Cup whilst the possibilities of repeating a 4-0 whipping of Nigeria in 1963 are wafer skinny. That leaves Guinea-Bissau as the one reasonable hope of a victory. AFP predicts: 1. Egypt, 2. Nigeria, 3. Guinea-Bissau, 4. Sudan. – AFP