CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt legend Wael Gomaa has praised superstar Mohamed Salah and criticised coach Javier Aguirre before the Africa Cup of Nations hosts confront Uganda in Group A today.
“We depend on Salah and Trezeguet (Mahmoud Hassan) in attack, the determination of midfielder Tarek Hamed and brilliant defender Ahmed Hegazy,” said the beIN Sports analyst.
“We have no tactics or strategy. Aguirre is so bad with his line-ups and substitutions,” added the former Egypt and Al Ahly centre-back, who retired five years ago.
Here, AFP Sport previews the final matches in Group A and Group B with record seven-time champions Egypt and Nigeria already sure of last-16 places.
Egypt v Uganda
This will be the fifth Cup of Nations clash between the countries and Egypt are set to maintain a perfect record and finish top of the table in Cairo.
Mexican Aguirre was puzzled by the second-half loss of tempo in a midweek win over the Democratic Republic of Congo and is considering making changes.
“Many players appeared exhausted against the Congolese and need rest, so I am considering introducing new faces against Uganda.”
DR Congo v Zimbabwe
Although the Congolese have suffered two-goal losses to Uganda and Egypt, they could still sneak into the second round as one of the best four third-place teams if they win in Cairo.
Woeful against Uganda, the Congolese were much better in their second outing and struck the woodwork twice when falling to Egypt.
“After the unacceptable performance we produced against Uganda, the boys played a great game against Egypt and will fight for three points against Zimbabwe,” vowed coach Florent Ibenge.
Taking a point against Uganda means Zimbabwe are better placed than DR Congo to survive, provided the likes of captain Knowledge Musona finish better and secure maximum points.
Nigeria v Madagascar
Nigeria are through to the second round after two single-goal Group B victories in coastal city Alexandria and debutants Madagascar should also progress.
In the likely event that the Indian Ocean islanders lose to the three-time champions, they still look good to book a last-16 place as one of the four best third-place finishers.
It would be remarkable achievement for a nation ranked so low that they had to beat Sao Tome e Principe just to reach the qualifying competition for the 2019 Cup of Nations.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr was thrilled that the winner against Guinea followed a corner, saying, “We have spent a lot of time during training practising corner-kick situations.”
Burundi v Guinea
Guinea, whose best Cup of Nations finish was second behind Morocco in Ethiopia 43 years ago, must defeat debutants Burundi in Cairo to avoid a shock early exit.
Belgian coach Paul Put axed goalkeeper Aly Keita after an error-riddled draw with Madagascar and the side performed much better despite losing to Nigeria.
“We have made things difficult for ourselves,” admitted Put, who took outsiders Burkina Faso to the 2013 final won by Nigeria. “We must beat Burundi to stand a chance of qualifying.”