This is the last of our 4-part “Arabs at the AfCON” profiles. In case you have missed them, they’re stories and anecdotes of present and past of the Arab teams participating in this year’s African Cup of Nations. First up were Algeria and their main man, Riyad Mahrez; a tale of rags to riches. Then it was Tunisia; a history-making side. Yesterday it was Morocco and their star in the dugout Herve Renard. Today we conclude it with the Pharaohs of Egypt.
January 17th marks the return of the greatest power in the North. No, I don’t have leaked Game of Thrones season 7 footage. I’m talking about an even more powerful entity than the Starks; the Egyptian National Football team. The pride of a hundred million. The Pharaohs. They return to the tournament where they’ve made themselves a powerhouse of a continent.
After an unprecedented continental dominance of Africa during the noughties, 3 back-to-back-to-back AfCON wins that make Spain’s 2 back to back European Championships wins look like an everyday job, it’s fair to say Egyptian football hasn’t been the same since 2011. The national team has missed the last 3 AfCONs and the World Cup in Brazil. On a domestic level, turbulence has rocked the Egyptian league quite badly, hitting rock bottom on February 1st, albeit things seem to have stabilized a bit since.
On January 17th, 100 million will look toward Roma Superstar Mo Salah, who’s been tearing it up in the eternal city. He and his compatriots, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny in midfield and legendary goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (Who makes Gigi Buffon look like a spring chicken), will be looking to take back the throne for the Pharaohs for the 8th time.
Update post-opening round of fixtures: “I’m become death, the destroyer of worlds”. I seem to have placed a curse on each of the teams we’ve talked about in the profiles as none of them got a win in their opening games: Algeria drew 2-all with Zimbabwe, Tunisia lost 0-2 to Senegal. Morocco lost 0-1 to DR Congo and Egypt drew 0-0 with Mali. Hopefully with them no longer under my microscope, they’ll pickup their performances in the second round!
Don’t forget to leave a smile