Preview: Egypt vs. Congo DR - prediction, team news, lineups

Egypt‘s quest for Africa Cup of Nations glory on home soil continues on Wednesday evening as they take on Congo DR at the Cairo International Stadium.

The Pharaohs carved out a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in their opening fixture, while Congo DR lost 2-0 to Ugandato find themselves bottom of the Group A standings.


Trezeguet celebrates scoring for Egypt on June 21, 2019© Reuters

Despite his side making hard work of overcoming Zimbabwe last week, Egypt head coach Javier Aguirre said after the match that the win is all that mattered.

Marwan MohsenAbdallah El-Said and star man Mohamed Salah all had good chances to score, but they could not find a way past the visitors’ inspired keeper Edmore Sibanda.

In the end, Trezeguet‘s goal just before half time proved the difference between the sides, ensuring that the hosts got off to a winning start in front of a packed crowd.

After seeing his players drop off in the final quarter of the game, though, Aguirre has called for an improved performance against Congo DR, who are 60 places better off than Zimbabwe in the FIFA rankings.

Egypt have now lost only one of their last 26 games in the Africa Cup of Nations – against Cameroon in the 2017 final – and another victory on Wednesday will allow Aguirre to turn focus towards the last 16.

Salah may not have got off the mark against Zimbabwe, meanwhile, but he has still been involved in four of his side’s last six goals in the biennial showpiece – two goals of his own and two assists.

If the competition’s most successful side are to land an eighth crown, they will need their superstar forward to find his groove.

Recent form in AFCON: W
Recent form (all competitions): WDLWWW

Congo DR

DR Congo's coach Florent Ibenge looks on during a news conference ahead of the African Nations Cup opening soccer match against Uganda at Cairo International Stadium, Egypt on June 19, 2019© Reuters

Congo DR’s players were forced to apologise to supporters following their shock loss to Uganda, which leaves them playing catch up in Group A.

Skipper Youssouf Mulumbu described the defeat as “humiliating” and has vowed to make amends to the 90 million population of Congo, starting with victory over the much-fancied tournament hosts.

The good news for Congo DR is that they have not lost two games in a row at this stage of the competition since the 2004 edition when losing three on the spin.

With Zimbabwe to face in their final group match later in the week, the Leopards need to get off the mark in Cairo on Wednesday.

A disrupted build-up to their meeting with Uganda, with the final training session on the eve of the match being cancelled because of logistical reasons, clearly did not help.

Florent Ibenge knows that the pressure is on to put things right if Congo DR are to progress out of the group phase for the third in succession.

Third-place finishers in 2015, Congo DR are facing an early exit from this year’s AFCON unless they can down Egypt and well and truly shake up Group A.

Recent form in AFCON: L
Recent form (all competitions): DDWDDL

Team News

Mohamed Salah in action for Egypt during a World Cup qualifying match with Congo in October 2017© Reuters

Despite being below par against Zimbabwe, Aguirre may well stick with the same side on Wednesday.

Salah was selected in his preferred right-sided position in attacking midfield, offering support to Mohsen.

Walid SolimanAmr Warda and Nabil Emad were all introduced from the bench last time out and are pushing for inclusion in this key match.

As for the visitors, Ibenge may tweak things slightly after suffering a shock loss last week.

Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga, a second-half sub against Uganda, is among those in contention to return to the starting lineup.

Yannick Bolasie offered little, meanwhile, but he is one of the more talented players in the squad and should retain his place out wide.

Egypt possible starting lineup:
El-Shenawy; Elmohamady, Alaa, Hegazi, Ashraf; Hamed, Elneny; Salah, El Said, Trezeguet; Mohsen

Congo DR possible starting lineup:
Matampi; Mpeko, Luyindama, Tisserand, Masuaku; Bokadi; Elia, Mbemba, M’Poku, Bolasie; Assombalonga

Head To Head

Egypt have won two of their last three games against Congo DR in the Africa Cup of Nations, losing the other.

The Leopards are the only team to have eliminated Egypt at the AFCON when the Pharaohs have hosted the tournament, doing so in the semi-finals of the 1974 edition – the last time Congo DR lifted the cup.

Not since March 2012 have the sides faced off, with that friendly match finishing goalless.