MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) continues his African Cup of Nations analysis by looking at Group D's encounter between Egypt and Uganda.
Egypt v Uganda | Saturday 19:00 | Eurosport
Seven-time African Cup of Nations champions Egypt missed out on the past three tournaments having claimed a hat-trick of top honours previously.
Now with Hector Cuper in charge, the Pharaohs are expected to go close again in 2017 but a dour opening draw when heavy against Mali has put plenty of pundits off.
I’m not going to write off Egypt just yet though. Cuper’s conservative tactics have come in for plenty of criticism this week but his side will need to release the shackles on Saturday to open up quarter-final opportunities.
Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny put in a solid performance against Mali but wasted two first-half chances but the Pharaohs’ best effort fell to striker Marwan Mohsen, whose header was pushed away by a flying Oumar Sissoko save.
The match saw Egypt lose goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawy to injury. With Sherif Ekramy already ruled out of the opener, 44-year-old Essam El Hadary became the oldest player in the history of the tournament and the veteran will be relied upon again here.
I’m not too concerned about the goalkeeping situation and instead I’ll focus my attention on Cuper’s side to pick up maximum points at 17/20 (Betway). Although they’ve missed the past three tournaments,
Egypt are unbeaten in 20 AFCON games (W15-D5-L0) – a tournament record – and can certainly improve on their opening day performance against Group D’s outsiders.
Uganda to sit back
Uganda didn’t disgrace themselves in a 1-0 loss to Ghana but Micho Sredojevic’s men failed to threaten the Black Stars’ backline often enough. Tonny Mawejje topped the Cranes’ shot count and played more passes in the opposition half than his teammates but he plays his football with Throttur Reykjavik in Iceland.
Faruku Miya did hit the outside of a post against Ghana but the Cranes created few opportunities and are unlikely to take an adventurous approach to Friday’s contest. They’re an unambitious outfit under Sredojevic, difficult to breakdown but I’m going to back Egypt to break that resilience.
Egypt haven’t lost when scoring since November 2014 and have won seven of their past 11 games – six of which arrived by the 1-0 or 2-0 correct scores. I’ll back them both here at 19/4 and 7/1 with BetVictor.