10:00 ET Canada-USA | 17:00 CLT
Two North African heavyweights will battle for a place in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations when Egypt and Morocco go head to head at the Stade Stade Olembe on Sunday.
Carlos Queiroz’s Egypt picked up their biggest result at the Africa Cup of Nations last Wednesday when they saw off tournament favourites Ivory Coast on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes.
In a game where clear-cut chances were at a premium, the Pharaohs came closest to breaking the deadlock when they hit the post in the first half, and with nothing to separate the sides after extra time, Mohamed Salah calmly converted his all-important penalty to condemn the Elephants to a 5-4 defeat on penalties.
This followed a decent run in the group stages, where they kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Nigeria on January 11 before claiming successive 1-0 wins over Guinea-Bissau and Sudan to finish runners-up in Group D.
Egypt are the most decorated side in Africa with a record seven Africa Cup of Nations titles — with their last triumph coming in 2010 — and they will look to keep the juggernaut rolling and go all the way once again 12 years later.
Egypt will miss in-form goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who picked up a hamstring injury in the win over Cote d’Ivoire. His understudy, Mohamed Abou-Gabal, came off the bench to play a vital role in the Pharaohs’ win over Cote d’Ivoire by blocking a penalty in the shootout.
They will also likely have to do without influential defensive midfielder Hamdi Fathi, who was taken off with an injury against Cote d’Ivoire.
Morocco, on the other hand, had to dig deep last time out when they fought back from one goal down to claim a 2-1 victory against a resilient Malawi side.
After falling behind to Gabadinho Mhango’s seventh-minute strike, Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri restored parity on the stroke of half time before Achraf Hakimi scored a beauty in the 70th minute to turn the game on its head.
This followed an unbeaten run in the group stages, where they secured smooth passage into the round of 16 after picking up seven points from three games to finish at the summit of Group C.
This was also the Atlas Lions’ first AFCON knockout-stage victory in almost two decades, dating back to 2004 when they went all the way before falling at the last hurdle as they were beaten 2-1 by host nation Tunisia in the final.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s men head into Sunday’s game unbeaten in all but one of their last 32 games in all competitions, claiming 26 wins and five draws since they were beaten by Benin on penalties in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations back in 2019.
Egypt possible starting lineup:
Abou Gabal, Kamal, Hegazi, Hamdi, Ashraf; Zizo, El-Sulya, Elneny; Mostafa Mohamed, Omar Marmoush, Salah
Morocco possible starting lineup:
Bono; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Masina; Amrabat, Amallah, Louza; Boufal, En-Nesyri, El Kaabi
FT: Egypt 2-1 Morocco | 2021 AFCON Quarter-finals