‘AFCON 2021 is brutal’

Mohamed Salah says Egypt’s successful journey to the semi-finals is testament of just how AFCON 2021 has tested every big gun’s character in Cameroon.

Two group winners, Cameroon and Senegal, plus two group stage runners up, Egypt and Burkina Faso, have survived the carnage that has claimed big guns Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco who either fell short of the quarter-finals or semi-finals.

Ghana and defending champions Algeria both made dramatic group stage exits.

Record seven-time champions Egypt ensured they stayed alive at AFCON on Sunday when they rallied to eliminate Morocco 2-1 after extra-time on Sunday to book their date against hosts Cameroon thanks to a goal and assist from Salah.

While Morocco’s journey to the quarter-finals was free of turbulence,  Egypt endured an unconvincing group stage run where they struggled to win their last two games after kicking off the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Nigeria who went on to win Group D with a 100  record but were tossed out at the quarterfinals.

“I think the tournament is difficult, all the teams have suffered. We have seen Algeria exit from the first round and Senegal qualified from their group with just one goal,” Salah said in a post-match interview.

“Nigeria also were the best team in the group-stages, but got knocked out early in the next round, therefore, you can’t predict any game.”

Egypt now face Cameroon in a grudge match in which they will be hoping to avenge their 2-1 loss in the 2017 final.

“We need to only focus on our next game against Cameroon,” Salah said.

Meanwhile, Cameroon and Burkina Faso are the only teams still standing from one group at this AFCON and face the prospect of a Group A reunion in the February 6 final. -africanfootball.com

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