On Thursday, January 18, in Abidjan, Group B of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations will showcase two thrilling fixtures. Among them, Egypt will go head-to-head with Ghana.
Egypt and Ghana have a history of intense encounters in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, having clashed four times before. Three of those matches took place in the group stages, resulting in a highly competitive record of one win each, one draw, and two goals scored by each team. However, they also faced off once in the final, a high-stakes showdown where Egypt emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win in 2010.
Interestingly, Egypt has had the upper hand in their recent meetings with Ghana in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. They secured a 1-0 victory in the 2010 final, showcasing their ability to perform under pressure. In the 2017 group stages, Egypt once again came out on top with another 1-0 win. These consecutive victories have undoubtedly boosted Egypt’s confidence and provided them with a psychological advantage heading into this upcoming match against Ghana.
When looking at the overall statistics of their previous encounters, it becomes evident that goals have been relatively scarce between Egypt and Ghana in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Across the four matches they have played, only five goals have been scored, emphasizing the defensive solidity of both teams. Egypt, in particular, has demonstrated its strength in the group stages, losing only one of their last 20 matches in this phase of the tournament. With an impressive record of 14 wins and 5 draws, they have proven to be a formidable force. Their sole defeat in recent times came in a close 1-0 loss to Nigeria in 2022, further fueling their determination to maintain their dominance in the group stages.
However, Egypt’s journey in this year’s tournament has encountered a minor setback. Following a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Mozambique on Matchday 1, the Pharaohs will be determined to avoid failing to win either of their first two group games. This situation has not been seen since 1992, which coincidentally included a loss to Ghana on Match Day 2. The memory of that defeat will surely be fresh in their minds, motivating them to secure a victory and regain their winning momentum.
On the other hand, Ghana enters this match after a disappointing start to their campaign. They suffered a 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde on Match Day 1 of the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. This loss undoubtedly serves as a wake-up call for the Black Stars, as they aim to bounce back and prove their mettle. The desire to avoid a similar outcome will surely ignite a fighting spirit within the Ghanaian team. Since they were upset by Nigeria and Algeria in 1984, Ghana has not lost their opening two games in a tournament.
Ghana has faced a challenging period in recent matches at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, experiencing a winless run of five matches. With two draws and three losses, this is their longest stretch without a victory in the competition. Furthermore, they have suffered back-to-back defeats in their last two matches: a 3-2 loss against Comoros in 2022 and a 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde on Matchday 1 of this year’s tournament. The urgency to end this winless streak and turn their fortunes around will undoubtedly fuel their determination.
When it comes to Ghana’s attacking prowess, set pieces have proven to be their most productive avenue for scoring goals. Four out of their last five goals at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations have come from set-piece situations, with three being scored from corners and one from a free kick. This highlights their ability to capitalize on strategic opportunities and the importance of defending against their set-piece threats. Defender Alexander Djiku has been a key contributor, scoring the last two set-piece goals for Ghana. The last Ghanaian player to achieve the feat of scoring three consecutive goals for them at the AFCON was Mubarak Wakaso in 2013, showcasing the potential impact of their defensive players in offensive situations.
With all these factors in play, the upcoming match between Egypt and Ghana promises to be a captivating battle. Both teams will be eager to secure a crucial victory and gain momentum in the tournament. The history between these two nations adds an extra layer of intensity, as they aim to settle the score and assert their dominance on the African football stage. Fans can expect a tightly contested encounter with tactical battles, skillful displays, and the potential for late drama that makes the CAF Africa Cup of Nations so enthralling.
By Etienne Mengnjo Mainimo