Egyptian soccer player Wael Gomaa and Algerian Abdelkader Ghezzal, front, challenges for the ball. Image Credit: AP

Cairo: Egypt legend Wael Gomaa has praised superstar Mohammad Salah and criticised coach Javier Aguirre before the Africa Cup of Nations hosts confront Uganda in Group A on Sunday.

“We depend on Salah and Trezeguet (Mahmoud Hassan) in attack, the determination of midfielder Tarek Hamed and brilliant defender Ahmad Hegazy,” he said. “We have no tactics or strategy. Aguirre is so bad with his line-ups and substitutions,” added the former Egypt and Al Ahly centre-back, who retired five years ago.

Seven-time champions Egypt are already sure of a last-16 place having beaten Zimbabwe and DR Congo.

This will be the fifth Cup of Nations clash between the countries and Egypt are set to maintain a perfect record and finish top of the table in Cairo.

Mexican Aguirre was puzzled by the second-half loss of tempo in a midweek win over Congo and is considering making changes.

“Many players appeared exhausted against the Congolese and need rest, so I am considering introducing new faces against Uganda.”

Uganda lie second and are set to reach the knockout phase of a Cup of Nations for the first time since 1978 whatever the result.

Although the Congolese have suffered two-goal losses to Uganda and Egypt, they could still sneak into the second round as one of the best four third-place teams if they win against Zimbabwe in Cairo.

Woeful against Uganda, the Congolese were much better in their second outing and struck the woodwork twice when falling to Egypt.

“After the unacceptable performance we produced against Uganda, the boys played a great game against Egypt and will fight for three points against Zimbabwe,” vowed coach Florent Ibenge.

Taking a point against Uganda means Zimbabwe are better placed than DR Congo to survive, provided the likes of captain Knowledge Musona finish better and secure maximum points.

In Group B, Nigeria are through to the second round after two single-goal victories in coastal city Alexandria and their opponents Madagascar should also progress.

In the likely event that the Indian Ocean islanders lose to the three-time champions, they still look good to book a last-16 place as one of the four best third-place finishers.

It would be remarkable achievement for a nation ranked so low that they had to beat Sao Tome e Principe just to reach the qualifying competition for the 2019 Cup of Nations.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr was thrilled that the winner against Guinea followed a corner, saying: “We have spent a lot of time during training practising corner-kick situations.”

Guinea, whose best Cup of Nations finish was second behind Morocco in Ethiopia 43 years ago, must defeat debutants Burundi in Cairo to avoid a shock early exit.

Belgian coach Paul Put axed goalkeeper Aly Keita after an error-riddled draw with Madagascar and the side performed much better despite losing to Nigeria.

“We have made things difficult for ourselves,” admitted Put, who took outsiders Burkina Faso to the 2013 final won by Nigeria. “We must beat Burundi to stand a chance of qualifying.”

Burundi need a win to have any chance of surviving and are looking to score for the first time in the tournament after losing twice to late second-half goals.


Group B

Nigeria v Madagascar, 8pm

Burundi v Guinea, 8pm

Group A

Egypt v Uganda, 11pm

DR Congo v Zimbabwe, 11pm