Ghana/Egypt: Pharaohs Hope to Join Black Stars in Afcon Quarterfinals

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Egypt need just a point from their final African Nations Cup Group D clash against Ghana in Port Gentil on Wednesday to be sure of a quarterfinal place, and will be confident of achieving at least that against the already qualified Black Stars.

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Ghana head the pool with six points from their opening two games, but have yet to thoroughly convince.

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Egypt have four points after their late win over Uganda last time out, with Mali the only side able to catch them in second place.

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In order for Egypt to miss out they must lose and Mali defeat the Ugandans, which would leave both sides on four points. As they drew 0-0 in their pool openers, it would leave second-place to be decided on goal-difference, which would go in the favour of the Maliens.

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But for Egypt coach Hector Cuper, this is almost the perfect scenario as he builds his team to be organised in defence and play not to concede, before they try to score.

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And he might have no desire either to overhaul Ghana at the top of the pool as that means staying in Port Gentil on the horrendous pitch that has already been fingered in injuring two of his goalkeepers.

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Cuper has come under heavy criticism from Egyptian fans and media for his approach, but this is one instance where it may well work in his favour.

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“Football is not just about attack,” he quipped testily when questioned about it. “Like the defence, the attack should be organised as well, it’s not just about players pushing forward in a random manner.

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“Every game has its special plan and strategy.”

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Ghana coach Avram Grant has the luxury of rotating his squad and what he will look for more than anything is a more assured performance than the pair of 1-0 wins over Uganda and Mali.

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He has also come under fire from fans over the Black Stars’ rather unadventurous style that has made their matches fairly dour spectacles.

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And having already highlighted the fact that the pitch in Port Gentil in particular is well below par, Grant might not be adverse to finishing second in the pool either and moving on to Oyem, even though that surface is also a problem.

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“There is no point complaining about the pitch but I am not happy with this [Port Gentil] – we are a technical team and we try to play good football.

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“If the other pitch is better of course I’d prefer the other pitch.”

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There appears no real benefit in finishing first or second in the pool, in fact top spot could well set-up a quarterfinal meeting with holders Cote d’Ivoire.

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