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Attack-minded Egypt enter AFCON with renewed confidence

EGYPT hope a new attacking approach will bear fruit as they launch a fresh bid to win a record-extending eighth Africa Cup of Nations title in the Ivory Coast, putting behind them the disappointment of two recent near misses.

They kick off their campaign against Mozambique in Abidjan on Sunday, having had to settle for silver medals in 2017 and 2021, with a shock round of 16 loss to South Africa on home soil in 2019.

Both recent final appearances were achieved via stout defensive displays as Argentine coach Hector Cuper and Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz made this the foundation of their game-plan.

However, Egypt will largely count on flair this time around with current coach Rui Vitoria drastically altering tactics after taking over in 2022.

The former Benfica tactician inherited a side reeling from poor displays, including a stunning 2-0 loss to Ethiopia in a Cup of Nations qualifier and a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of South Korea in a friendly.

He set about improving Egypt’s efficiency in the final third, striking a better balance between attack and defence that had been the hallmark of a hat-trick of AFCON triumphs between 2006 and 2010.

Egypt have won 12 times in 14 games under Vitoria, their only loss against Tunisia in a friendly in September. They have scored 33 goals and conceded six.

“My vision for the game is attacking, yes, but it remains balanced,” the 53-year-old told beIN Sports.

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“The idea in our minds is that we try to play good football without ignoring the fact that we must defend at times. Players now know that we must maintain a balance, even when attacking.”


Vitoria’s bold approach is bolstered by the attacking riches at his disposal.

Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah is joint top scorer in the Premier League this season with 14 goals, while Eintracht Frankfurt winger Omar Marmoush has seven in 15 Bundesliga games.

Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed has six goals in Ligue 1 and Trabzonspor’s Mahmoud Trezeguet has netted four times in 13 Turkish league matches.

“I was happy with our displays in the previous (Cup of Nations) but we were unlucky. We will do our best to do even better this time around,” Salah told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last week.

Egypt also face Ghana and Cape Verde in Group B in the Ivory Coast.