Plucky Pharaohs ready to showcase defensive talents
Africa Cup of Nations final
Eurosport 1, 7pm
Egypt's route to the final has been largely down to their defensive assets and the Flying Pharaohs can give themselves every chance of lifting an eighth Africa Cup of Nations title by holding Cameroon at bay.
Egypt had been absent from the competition since lifting the trophy in 2010 – when they were crowned champions for a third consecutive time – and victory in Libreville this evening would confirm their status as Africa’s most decorated nation.
Hector Cuper’s nullifying approach has often been criticised but it has been the catalyst to their success and the Pharaohs have shipped just one goal in this year’s event.
The Egyptians have kept four clean sheets, highlighted by 1-0 wins against Ghana and Morocco, and Cameroon, although respected, may lack the attacking talents to break them down.
Defensive duo Ahmed Hegazy and Ali Gabr Mossad have been magnificent at the back and 44-year-old keeper Essam El Hadary, chasing his fifth title, is defying his age with constant match-winning performances.
Egypt will be desperate to see Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny shake off the injury which has kept him out of the knockout stages and if he returns then Cuper’s men look solid.
Mo Salah’s influence is soaked up by the Egyptians defence-comes-first attitude, but he has already scored twice in this competition and if given enough space could open up Cameroon.
Eight of Cameroon’s players, most notably Liverpool’s Joel Matip, turned down the chance to play at the event.
The Indomitable Lions have already surpassed their expectations prior to the tournament and victories against Ghana and Senegal show what they are capable of.
However, breaking break down Egypt’s imposing backline is a different kind of test.
Egypt to keep a clean sheet
1pt 7-5 betfair
Already advised by Aaron Ashley
Egypt to lift the trophy
1pt 10-1 January 14