AFCON 2023: Black Stars in make-or-break situation against Egypt

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Ghana’s players pose ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Ghana and Cape Verde at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 14, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Defeat in their first game of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) means the Black Stars find themselves in a tricky situation heading into their next game. The opposition? Egypt.

Ghana will face Egypt in their second game in the competition looking to bounce back from the shocking loss to Cape Verde. A late collapse meant the Black Stars’ winless record at the AFCON continued.

Cape Verde’s midfielder #26 Kevin Pina (R) heads the ball during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Ghana and Cape Verde at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 14, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

While Ghana faced an upset on matchday one, Egypt had to rely on a late penalty from Mohamed Salah to claim a point against Mozambique.

The Pharaohs took an early lead against Mozambique but the latter scored two second-half goals to turn the tie around until the Liverpool star happened in additional time.

The two results from the first round of games mean Egypt and Ghana have one point and zero respectively heading into Thursday’s crunch encounter.

What has been said?

Both teams held their press conferences yesterday ahead of the much-anticipated fixture.

Ghana’s head coach, Chris Hughton, talked about the need for his side to up their game considering they play a side that is better than his team at the moment.

“Our level has to be higher. On paper, we’re playing a better side [Egypt],” said the Irish trainer. “I am the leader who has to concentrate on preparation for the next game.”

One thing that has been talked about a lot in the last few days after the defeat to Cape Verde is whether Mohammed Kudus will be involved against the Pharaohs.

Hughton had this to say at the presser, “We will continue to assess Mohammed Kudus. He has trained the last few days. We will assess him and make a decision [before the game].”

For Egypt, whether or not the West Ham United man gets to play or not, Rui Vitoria says his team are preparing adequately for the fixture.

“I think it’s good for the tournament [that] the best players play all the games. Of course, he’s a fantastic player. He’s doing well in the Premier League. In this [tournament], I’m ready to face that kind of player,” the Portuguese said when quizzed about the 23-year-old.

“We are ready for that. We will prepare the team for that if he plays. We have to control him. But not only him, because the Ghanaian team is very good and all the players are good.”

Recent meetings

Since beating Egypt 6-1 in the qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Ghana has not enjoyed any success coming up against the North African side.

This was Black Stars Can we Repeat this same Scoreline on Thursday?Ghana 6 Vs 1 Egypt RIP Atsu— BlaQBwoy (@agaciou) January 16, 2024

In fact, four games have been played since then and the Pharaohs have enjoyed three victories while the Black Stars’ best has been a draw, coming also in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.

Last 5 games

Ghana 6-1 Egypt (2014 World Cup Qualifiers)

Egypt 2-1 Ghana (2014 World Cup Qualifiers)

Egypt 2-0 Ghana (2018 World Cup Qualifiers)

Egypt 1-0 Ghana (AFCON 2017)

Ghana 1-1 Egypt (2018 World Cup Qualifiers)

For Ghana, a win will mean that amass three points and move above Egypt in Group B, putting themselves in a good place to book a ticket to the next round of the competition.

That would also mean they end a five-game winless run in their last five AFCON games since beating Guinea-Bissau in 2019.

Egypt claiming all three points could also take them to the top of the group depending on the result of the game between Cape Verde and Mozambique, who play earlier on Thursday.

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