The Pharaohs entered the Africa Cup of Nations tournament with a point to prove, possessing arguably one of the best players in the world in their ranks. Having already cruised through their World Cup Qualifiers group with a 100% unbeaten record, the Egypt national team was undoubtedly full of ambition and spirit regarding their chances at AFCON. They successfully overcame Gabon, Libya and Angola, in what was a relatively easy set of opponents. However, their true test of footballing prowess came into light when the AFCON kicked-off.
They were pitched in alongside Sudan, Guinea-Bissau and arguably one of their toughest rivals Nigeria in Group D. As the most successful nation in the cup’s history with seven honors and having recently been victorious with an unprecedented AFCON treble – between 2006 & 2010 – one could always count the Egyptians to compete for the title time and again.
Group D – Matchday 1: Nigeria 1-0 Egypt
The drive to win their eighth continental title began with insurmountable hope and it was the Super Eagles who posed the biggest threat to the Pharaohs progressing to the next round. The worst of Egypt’s nightmares came through in the first match, when they succumbed to an opening day defeat with a sub-par performance. Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho belted a half-volley from an edge-of-the-box strike into the top corner to settle the contest, unsettling Egypt hopes of progress.
Group D – Matchday 2: Guinea-Bissau 0-1 Egypt
Having been cut an isolated figure in the first match against Nigeria, captain Mohamed Salah came into life in their second outing. Although he came alive for a brief moment, it was enough to kick-start Egypt’s AFCON campaign with their first three points. The side’s main talisman upset minnows Guinea-Bissau with a second-half goal – a 69th minute volley from the left wing that the goalkeeper could do nothing about.
Group D – Matchday 3: Egypt 1-0 Sudan
The most important match of the group stages is always the last, especially in a one-off tournament such as AFCON. Egypt managed to narrowly oust Sudan in the third matchday via Mohamed Adel-Moneim’s first-half header.
Scraping through the group stages and very well on the merit of Sudan and Guinea-Bissau’s respective failures, Egypt finally made it through, albeit behind an unbeaten Nigeria side.
Round of 16 – Matchday 4: Ivory Coast 0-0 Egypt (Egypt win 5-4 on penalties)
Ivory Coast and Egypt played out a disappointing affair at the Douala Stadium, as duo came to life in extra-time after failing to better each other in normal time. Eventually, a penalty shootout was required to declare the winner. The Pharaohs proceeded to book a place in the quarter-finals, with Salah scoring the decisive penalty after Eric Bailly missed the preceding set-piece.
Quarter-final – Matchday 5: Egypt 2-1 Morocco
Salah was once again the star of the show for Egypt in the quarter-final, as the captain marched his teammates with great leadership into the next round. The Liverpool ace’s brilliance allowed him to equalize just after half-time with a rebound shot after Morocco went ahead early in the first period via a penalty. He then set up match winner Trezeguet ten minutes into extra time with a perfect low cross.
Semi-final – Matchday 6: Cameroon 0-0 Egypt (Egypt win 3-1 on penalties)
Looking to rid the demons of their final loss at AFCON 2017 to winners Cameroon, Egypt had the perfect chance to avenge their shortcomings five years earlier. In what was a reflection of the dull Round of 16 encounter, the match proceeded to extra-time, where the Pharaohs took advantage of their opponent’s inefficiency from the penalty spot to book a final spot against Senegal.
Final – Matchday 7: Senegal 0-0 Egypt (Senegal win 4-2 on penalties)
Egypt encountered a rather stern Senegal side in the final, led by highly-rated Napoli center-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The Lions of Teranga proved a tough nut to crack, as the match was stretched to penalty shootouts once again. Astonishingly, Salah came undone as Carlos Quieroz opted to leave his main man until the end. By the time the forward’s turn came, Senegal had already won the clash, thanks to Salah’s club teammate Sadio Mane scoring the winning penalty.
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Egypt have the chance to exact retribution for the 2021 AFCON defeat at the hands of Senegal, when the duo clashes once again next month over two legs, in the decisive World Cup Qualifiers third round play-off.
They first meet on March 25 in Cairo, before heading west to Dakar for the second leg less than a week later.