Egypt have waited over 30 years for a victory over Morocco, a run they are desperate to end in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final in Port-Gentil.
The Pharaohs have won the competition on each of their last three appearances, in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and hold the overall record of seven titles.
Egypt did not qualify for the following three editions following that famous hat-trick, but Hector Cuper’s men finally broke that duck by reaching this tournament.
And after impressively beating Ghana to first place in Group D, the pressure is on to delivery glory.
However, Egypt have not beaten Morocco since March 1986 and now come up against AFCON specialist Herve Renard.
Morocco came through the group stage for the first time in five attempts as a crucial 1-0 matchday three win over Ivory Coast saw Renard dump out the nation with whom he won the tournament two years ago.
The Frenchman is continuing his magic touch in the competition. This is his fifth appearance and he has only lost two of his 22 games at the event.
He is also the only head coach to have won it twice, having also taken the title with Zambia in 2012.
Egypt and Morocco – who finished second to DR Congo in Group C – are both eyeing a run to the final and will believe their chances are strong with favourites Senegal in the other half of the draw.
The winners of this tie will face either Burkina Faso or Tunisia in Libreville on Wednesday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Egypt – Mohamed Salah
Egypt only scored twice in the group stage and Roma star Mohamed Salah was involved in both goals.
He set-up Abdallah Said’s late winner in the 1-0 victory over Uganda, before scoring the only goal of the game in the decisive final match against Ghana.
Playing at his first major tournament, winger Salah – arguably the tournament’s best player – will be crucial to Egypt’s hopes of further progression.
Morocco – Faycal Fajr
Deportivo La Coruna playmaker Faycal Fajr has been hugely impressive at AFCON 2017.
His two assists, which both came in the emphatic 3-1 win over Togo, have him joint-top of the tournament’s creative charts.
Fajr’s crosses and throughballs from open play, along with his set-piece delivery, will ensure Egypt’s defence – one that is yet to be breached in the tournament – will be given a stern examination.
KEY OPTA STATS:
– Morocco have won successive matches in the African Cup of Nations. Only once before have they put together a longer stretch of victories (four in 1976).
– Egypt have gone 22 AFCON games without defeat (W17 D5), last losing in the 2004 tournament (v Algeria) and have only conceded one goal across their last eight AFCON matches.
– Egypt have only managed to secure one AFCON victory in five attempts over Morocco (D1 L3); scoring only two goals across those games.
– Morocco come into this quarter-final having gone 12 matches unbeaten against Egypt (W4 D8) and conceding just one goal in their last eight against them.
– The Pharaohs have won each of their last three AFCON quarter-final matches, scoring a total of nine goals in that time.
– Egypt were the only team to keep a clean sheet in every game during the 2017 AFCON group stages.
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