15:30 ET Canada-USA | 21:30 Cairo Local Time
Cairo Stadium | Egypt
Revenge is a dish best served cold and we expect to see Egypt come out firing on all cylinders in this clash in the wake of what happened at the Africa Cup of Nations.
It’s time for the return of international football as a parade of countries attempt to book their ticket to this year’s 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
A string of nations have already battled their way through to November’s spectacle but with eight months to go, there are still an awful lot of unanswered questions. This week, we’ll get closer to answering some of them in the African qualifiers as Egypt prepare for a scintillating rematch with Senegal.
Salah and Mane, both 29, will be, at least in the eyes of the media, the star attractions in Friday’s showdown.
Egypt reaching the AFCON final was seen as something of a minor miracle by some given how they had to edge their way through so many games en-route to actually getting there. In reality, though, they do have some players that are more than capable of pulling a big performance of the bag, and you can bet Mohamed Salah will be leading the charge as he closes down on another appearance in the World Cup.
“In football, nothing comes for free, we need to fight for the win. What counts, what really counts at the end of the day is what we do on the pitch. What is important to understand in this moment, as I said since I came here, is that this game is a World Cup final for Africa,” Queiroz told the pre-game conference Thursday.
The Portuguese tactician said that Senegal have been a dominant force in Africa in recent years, having won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and qualified twice for the World Cup finals.
“We have been in a process over the past six months. During the Africa Cup we were able to challenge the continent’s best and I am happy with what we did. Against Senegal, we will challenge them. We have nothing to lose and everything to win. They are the champions and everybody expects them [to win]; they have everything to lose,” he added.
It could be easy for Senegal to take their foot off of the gas given that they’ve now officially earned the title of Champions of Africa due to their AFCON triumph.
Alas, the nature of the fixture schedule ensures they have to get their eyes back on the prize heading into this week. The first leg of their tie with Egypt is upon us and Sadio Mane needs to rally the troops and remind them of what it is they’re fighting for.
Despite winning the Africa Cup of Nations title, we are still hungry for more victories. Senegal players do not need motivation ahead of the game as we are hungry for more victories,” Cisse told the pre-game news conference on Thursday.
“We know the game against Egypt will be difficult and it is another final. Even before our Africa Cup final we knew we had three finals ahead of us against Egypt because the playoffs draw had been made,” Cisse added.
Senegal reached the FIFA World Cup finals two times in 2002 and 2018, while Egypt made it to the prestigious tournament three times in 1934, 1990 and 2018.