Review: Egypt’s 6-0 win over Niger in Aguirre’s debut
Egypt began a new era under Mexican coach Javier Aguirre who succeeded Argentine manager Hector Cuper following the Pharaohs’ disappointing performances in the 2018 World Cup. In his first game as the Pharaohs’s head coach, Egypt defeated Niger 6-0 and have already shown a massive step up in their play and style.
The difference between both Aguirre and Cuper was spotted right away after the Mexican coach announced his line up for Egypt’s second match in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, a 4-3-3 with a solid midfield trio of Aly Ghazal, Tarek Hamed and Mohamed Elneny and a rapid front three of Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Trezeguet and Marwan Mohsen.
This lineup gave the Pharaohs the tactical flexibility they missed under Cuper’s reign, to switch the formation from a classic 4-3-3 into an open wide 3-4-3 with Ghazal dropping back as a third CB and the full backs running forward to give the team the width needed to attack freely.
The team’s high pressing and zonal marking system guaranteed a solid start both offensively and defensively with no real threat on Egypt’s goal throughout the first half. The biggest advantage in Egypt’s new system is their use of the fullbacks. Throughout the whole game Ayman Ashraf and Ahmed Elmohamady displayed amazing performances as Elmo made multiple assists and Ashraf got his name on the scoresheet. At the same time, the spaces left behind both full backs were brilliantly covered up by Hamed and Ghazal, who both excellently orchestrated the switching between the 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 formations.
Another thing to get excited about in Aguirre’s new system is Elneny’s role. The Arsenal player’s new position showed us how he can really influence a game on the attack. Elneny received the most passes in Egypt’s lineup (62 times), had the highest pass accuracy (91 per cent) and completed 64 successful passes out of 70 (with only 14 backward passes). Additionally, Salah’s first awarded penalty came after Elneny’s pass that put Liverpool’s main man right in front of goal. His amazing display was topped off with a goal to get him back to scoring ways.
Second Half Switch:
The second half wasn’t as intense as the first, as Aguirre demanded his team to slow the play with a deeper backline and start focusing more on counter attacks. Hegazi and Baher Elmohamady’s partnership looked promising as the duo looked concentrated and only allowed five shots throughout the game for Mohamed El-Shennawy to deal with easily.
Liverpool’s star switched to fifth gear and assisted Salah Mohsen with a smart ball in the box that was finished superbly by the youngster. Salah then found the net for a second time with a decent header from an Elmo cross to put Aguirre’s side 5-0 up.
Yet again, Salah had an excellent performance as he bagged himself two goals and two assists. Elmohamady showed he’s ready to replace Ahmed Fathi at right-back with two assists. Ghazal had an outstanding return to the national team, and Baher Elmohamady had an amazing debut.
On the other hand, Niger were a below average side with an average coach; the fans shouldn’t get too excited after the result. It’s still Aguirre’s first game in charge, and the players and the staff still have a lot of work to do ahead of the remaining AFCON qualifiers, but the Mexican manager’s start with the team looks promising.
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