Algeria v Egypt, Africa Cup of Nations, January 28, 2010
â€œIt is great playing Egypt again as it offers us a chance to prove we beat them fairly and not through luckâ€¦ I am convinced we can do something special in Angola.” â€“ Hamer Bouazza.
“It will be a matter of life and death in that game. For both sides it will be like a war. For us it is a chance to show the world that we deserve to go to the World Cup and if we beat them, we will be able to watch the World Cup with pride.” – Mohamed Zidan.
Just two months after their World Cup qualifying play-off, rivals Algeria and Egypt face off in a mouthwatering encounter at the Africa Cup of Nations. In November, the Desert Hawks emerged as 1-0 winners (Algeria are 8/1 to win by the same scoreline) in the neutral play off in Sudan after the two sides could not be separated in the group stages and then in a two-legged tie.
As a result, Egypt have revenge on their mind in Angola as they bid to secure their third successive title. Hassan Shehataâ€™s team have been by far the most impressive side in the competition and if they play to their strengths they should prevail. Algeria though are seemingly never beaten as they showed in the play-offs and the quarter final with the Ivory Coast on Sunday.
The Pharaohs have demonstrated once again that teamwork and organization are crucial to success especially against other African teams that rely on individual brilliance. Egypt have won all four matches in Angola so far, scoring a total of 10 goals and also set a new record for the competition of matches won over the last three tournaments.
Mohamed Nagi Gedo, predominantly used as a substitute, has scored three goals and looked like a real find. Whilst the strike force of Mohamed Zidan and Emed Metab look they will cause even the best defences problems. (Egypt are 85/40 to score in both halves.) Veteran playmaker Ahmed Hassan has also been a key player in the middle of the park and came to the fore against Cameroon, scoring a brace (the second of which did not cross the line) after he had given away the opener with some slack marking at the near post.
Algeria have steadily improved in this tournament, in truth they couldnâ€™t get much worse after their 3-0 opening game defeat to Malawi. They recovered in the second match to beat Mali 1-0 and then played out a 0-0 draw with Angola that had more than a whiff of gamesmanship as it suited both sides. (Algeria are 5/2 to keep a clean sheet, 4/11 against.)
Whilst they were fortunate with a late offside decision against tournament favourites Ivory Coast, Algeria could well have won by more than they did, spurning numerous chances in extra time. They were just a minute from heading out the tournament after a thunderbolt from Kader Keita but Madjid Bougherra rescued the Desert Hawks with an even later equaliser to take the game to extra time. (Algeria are 16/5 to score in both halves.)
Bougherra has turned into a talisman for Algeria and English based pair Nadir Belhadj and Hamer Bouazza look dangerous breaking from deep. Elsewhere in the Algerian side, Karim Ziani brings his experience form the German Bundesliga and Karim Matmour is a threat in attack.
The Algerian government is sending fans to this match to give their team more support and the stands some atmosphere and after the explosive nature of the World Cup qualifying games, we can expect fireworks.
101gg predicts: Egypt 1 â€“ Algeria 0 (6/1)
Full match odds here.