Ghana coach Chris Hughton has explained that Group B at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is wide open and has called for a better performance against fellow heavyweights Egypt at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on the evening of Thursday 18 January 2024.
Kick-off is at 10pm (Zim time)
Egypt opened their Afcon campaign with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Mozambique on Sunday, requiring an injury-time penalty from Mohamed Salah to salvage a point against the Mambas. Prior to that, the Pharaohs recorded a 2-0 win over Tanzania in a warm-up friendly, as well as comfortable victories over Djibouti and Sierra Leone in 2026 World Cup qualifiers in November.
Ghana, meanwhile, suffered a shock defeat in their Afcon opener, conceding an injury-time strike to Garry Rodrigues to be beaten 2-1 by Cape Verde. Prior to that, the Black Stars drew 0-0 with Namibia in a warm-up friendly, while their 2026 World Cup qualifying action in November produced a win over Madagascar and a loss to Comoros.
Egypt have no reported injury problems, but it would be no surprise to see Mohamed Hamdy and Mahmoud Trezeguet Hassan replaced in the starting XI after they were unable to deal with Mozambique’s attacks down the right flank. As for Ghana, the focus falls on whether West Ham United star Mohammed Kudus will be fit to play. He missed the clash against Cape Verde with a ‘minor injury’ and the West Africans will have fingers crossed that he can feature against the Pharaohs.
What was said:
“We are upset with the result; we were hoping for a win, and our players were in full focus with good spirits,” said Egypt striker Ahmed Hassan Kouka. “We didn’t start the second half in the best way, and the difficulty of the match increased for us, but this is football; we must lift our heads. These are beginnings, not endings. It’s good that stumbles happen at the beginning, but the cup is our target, and we are certainly upset with the result.”
“We didn’t start well,” Ghana coach Chris Hughton explained. “They scored an incredible goal but we got ourselves back into the game. With the way the game was going, I thought it was going to be a draw but they had more attacking quality and got the win in the end. I mean with the Egypt result, anything can happen now. We got to reflect on our mistakes and we need to do better.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Egypt: Mohamed Salah had an assist and a goal in the 2-2 draw with Mozambique, yet still looked far short of his best. He will look to improve against Ghana and lead the Pharaohs to a statement victory.
Ghana: Alexander Djiku was Man of the Match and scored Ghana’s consolation goal in their defeat to the Blue Sharks. If the rest of his teammates can rise to the defender’s standards, then a win over Egypt is certainly possible.
In head-to-head terms, Egypt and Ghana have met in 23 matches dating back as far as 1960. The Pharaohs have claimed 12 wins compared to five for the Black Stars, while six games have been drawn. The teams’ most recent meeting was a World Cup qualifier in Kumasi in November 2017 which ended 1-1 after goals from Edwin Gyasi and Mahmoud Shikabala. — SuperSport