PREVIEW: Egypt vs Swaziland – 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying
KingFut previews the action as Egypt take on Swaziland at home in Group J of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification on Friday evening, before squaring off again on Tuesday in Manzini.
Egypt come into the fixture on the back of a comfortable 6-1 victory against Niger at the Borg El Arab Stadium in early September, helping them kick-start their qualification campaign after a 1-0 loss to Tunisia in the opening round of matches back in 2017.
Swaziland are just behind Egypt in the third spot, having drawn with Niger away from home in their first match, before falling to a 0-2 defeat at home to Tunisia last month.
The Pharaohs’ victory against Niger was Javier Aguirre’s first match in charge of the national team, after taking over from the departing Hector Cuper in the aftermath of the team’s disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign over the summer.
Aguirre has largely retained the same core of players from his predecessor’s squads, but made the notable decision to reinstate Aly Ghazal in the team. The Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder had been frozen out of the national setup for several years, and instantly repaid the Mexican’s faith with an assured display in Egypt’s comfortable victory.
Ayman Ashraf also seems to have displaced Mohamed Abdel-Shafy at left-back, and the 25-year-old scored for the second consecutive match and was rarely troubled defensively.
It is reasonable to expect that Aguirre will not make any significant changes to the team ahead of the doubleheader against Swaziland, and especially in the first fixture at home, where a similar approach to the Niger match will likely be utilized.
If the Pharaohs can emerge from the international break with six points, their chances of qualification will receive a major boost, seeing as a second-place finish is more than likely to also lead to 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification.
Swaziland, who are ranked 136th in the world, are unlikely to pose a threat to the Egyptian defense, and we can expect Egypt to keep their foot on the gas pedal as they did against Niger.
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