The North African derby between Egypt and Morocco at Stade de Port-Gentil will complete the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals. The teams will meet tomorrow nightwith kick-off at 9pm CAT.
Morocco bounced back from an opening defeat to DR Congo in Group C to finish as runners-up thanks to successive wins over Togo (3-1) and defending champions Ivory Coast (1-0). The latter saw coach Herve Renard eliminate the team he took to glory two years ago.
The Frenchman’s pedigree – he has two AFCON winners’ medals, having also taken Zambia to glory in 2012 – has seen Morocco become one of the favourites to win the tournament in Gabon, but the coach has dismissed this out of hand.
“I was very lucky to work with Côte d’ Ivoire and we share the same spirit. But now I have to continue and try to take Morocco far,” he said after the win over the Elephants.
“We are not favourites to win the tournament, there are better teams than us. But we are still in it.”
Egypt, meanwhile, secured their berth in the last eight by topping Group D, with a 1-0 win over Ghana on Wednesday underlining both their pedigree and potency. Added to a goalless draw with Mali and 1-0 win over Uganda, they were worthy winners of their pool.
Hector Cuper’s Pharaohs have yet to concede a goal in the tournament and look more than capable of going all the way to the final, even though their attack has yet to really ‘click’.
In head-to-head stats, Egypt and Morocco have met in 26 previous matches according to FIFA’s statistical database. The Atlas Lions have 13 wins compared to just two for the Pharaohs, while 11 matches have been drawn.
The teams’ last meeting in the AFCON finals was in the 2006 edition in Egypt, where the hosts drew 0-0 with their North Africans rivals in a group stage clash in Cairo.
Egypt – Mohamed Salah
After a couple of quiet games early in the tournament, Mohamed Salah sprang to life in Egypt’s 1-0 win over Ghana, scoring the only goal of the game from a brilliant free kick. The Roma attacker will hope his goal sparks a run of form that carries the Pharaohs to more Afcon glory.
Morocco – Youssef En-Nesyri
A key source of creativity and attacking thrust, Youssef En-Nesyri has been a key figure for Morocco thus far in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The 19-year-old forward has one goal to his name (the third in the Atlas Lions’ 3-1 win over Togo in the group stage) and he will be looking to add to his tally in this quarterfinal.
Head-to-Head – Egypt v Morocco
Egypt FIFA ranking: 35
Morocco FIFA ranking: 57
Matches played: 26
Egypt wins: 2
Morocco wins: 13
Egypt goals scored: 13
Morocco goals scored: 30
Last match: 24 January 2006 in Cairo – Egypt 0-0 Morocco