The serious things begin for the teams still in the race within the framework of the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021. The quarter-finals begin this Saturday for a place in the semi-finals.
If there are no more small teams in football, especially in Africa, and no meeting reveals its secrets (and its surprises) before the final whistle, some posters remain more attractive than others. This is the case of the Morocco-Egypt shock, qualified as a final before the hour.
With four matches scheduled for this weekend, eyes will be particularly riveted on this meeting which will bring together, on Sunday January 30 at 4 p.m., two great football nations, each with its history, its stars, its victories and its failures.
If at the level of the CAN, Egypt is indisputably the queen of the competition with 7 crowns, the fact remains that in terms of direct meetings, the statistics are largely in favor of Morocco.
The Atlas Lions therefore have history for them: Out of 22 official matches, Morocco has won 11, against 3 for the Pharaohs and eight draws.
But nothing is settled in advance. Egypt wants at all costs an 8th trophy, which it covets despite a difficult start in the competition (a defeat in front of Nigeria, and two narrow victories in front of Sudan and Guinea Bissau).
After a narrow start, the Pharaohs gained confidence in the 8th, eliminating with forceps, one of the favorites, Côte d’Ivoire. Admittedly, qualification came through penalties after 120 minutes of a blank draw, but in doing so, Mo Salah’s teammates showed that they have breath, perseverance, fighting spirit and a compact defense. Parameters that must be taken into account.
For a 2nd African title
For their part, the Atlas Lions, who have been dreaming for many years (since 1976) of a second African title, finished first in their group, with two wins (Ghana and Comoros) and a draw (Gabon). But this was not done without effort, without mistakes, without lost opportunities and without the beginnings of syncope for the Moroccans.
Things need to be corrected, others need to be improved, but Vahid Halilhodžić’s men can count on the talent and turbulence of a dazzling Sofiane Boufal, and the rigor and solid form of a certain Achraf Hakimi, both chosen from the Eleven type of the first round. And both of them have won the hearts of Moroccans in particular and those of football lovers in general.
In an article dedicated to him, the CAF paid tribute to the Moroccan right side, and applauded “A sniper named Achraf”.
“His legendary goal in the round of 16 of the 33rd edition of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 will certainly be remembered by Moroccans but also by football lovers,” CAF said.
The governing body of African football recalled that “in the 70th minute, when his team was hooked by Malawi (1-1), the Moroccan right side of Paris Saint Germain, Achraf Hakimi, with a magic paste gives the advantage to the Atlas Lions who validate their ticket for the quarter-finals of the high mass of African football”.
Hakimi is “a key player. He can change the course of the game at any time”, notes CAF again, quoting the Bosnian Lions technician: “For me, he is one of the great talents and best players in the world in his position”.
These quarter-finals of the CAN 2021 offer three other posters, which certainly interest Moroccans less, except perhaps to know the opponent of the Lions for the semi-finals… Fingers crossed!
The first match will oppose, this Saturday, January 29, the host country, Cameroon to Gambia, which continues, slowly but surely, its merry way in this competition. If Cameroon is the favorite on paper, experience has shown that surprises are not far away.
The 2nd meeting of this Saturday, will be disputed in the evening between Tunisia which will find all its covid survivors, and Burkina Faso, faller of a great Gabon in 8th, and author of a more than correct course.
Sunday, after Morocco-Egypt, the last quarter will oppose Senegal to Equatorial Guinea who took out Mali.
Sadio Mané’s friends will surely have a hard time dealing with this Equatorial Guinea, surprise guest of this phase, and which has shown that it can reverse many situations.
As a reminder, CAF announced on Wednesday evening that the CAN-2021 quarter-final match between Morocco and Egypt has been brought forward to 4:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m.
The body also specified that this match initially scheduled at the Olembé stadium will not take place there until CAF and the local organizing committee (COCAN) have received the full report from the commission. of investigation indicating the circumstances and events leading to the injury and death of spectators at the Olembé stadium.
The Atlas Lions will therefore play at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé, where they have played all their matches so far.
The meeting will be officiated by the Senegalese, Maguette Ndyaye. He will be assisted by his fellow citizens Malick Samba and Djibril Camara, while the Tunisian Sadok Selmi will be 4th referee. The Mexican Fernando Guerrero Gomez and the Mauritanian Baida Dahane will be in the “VAR” room.