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AFCON 2023 Round of 16 Preview: Egypt vs DR Congo

Sunday’s second Round of 16 match at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations sees the Leopards of DR Congo take on the nation with the most AFCON trophies of all time, Egypt. Both teams drew all three of their group stage matches but now a victor must be determined in an intriguing duel between North Africa and Central Africa. Read more on both teams below in our preview of the match:

Egypt vs DR Congo- 20:00 GMT

Egypt

With Mohamed Salah injured, striker Mostafa Mohamed is becoming the focal point of the Egyptian attack with three goals at the 2023 AFCON

Despite failing to earn a victory, Egypt are through to the knockout stages of the 2023 AFCON and the Pharaohs are always a dangerous opponent when elimination is at stake. During their run to the final of the 2021 edition, the Egyptian team was best known for their strong defense but that is not the case two years later with the attack increasing its level. Coach Rui Vitória acknowledged that his team is not at its best due to injuries but the Round of 16 presents an opportunity to build momentum for a deep run.

Reliable veteran goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy is out for the rest of the competition due to injury but it is a situation Egypt is accustomed to at this point with Gabaski set to step in just like he did at the 2021 edition. Al Ahly player Mohamed Hany is set to play at the right fullback position and Pyramids FC’s Mohamed Hamdy provides attacking runs and crosses from the left side. The central defense is where Egypt are struggling at the moment. Mohamed Abdelmonem is a talented player but veteran Ahmed Hegazy is continuing to have difficulties due to a lack of pace that can be exploited.

Another Al Ahly player, Marwan Ateya, appears likely to earn another start in the center of the midfield where former Al Ahly star Hamdi Fathi could partner him. Omar Marmoush and Trezeguet are increasing their level with star Salah injured and the energetic Emam Ashour is a central midfielder who is enjoying more attacking duties. Attacking midfielders Zizo and Mostafa Fathi are other players who could have a role behind reliable striker Mostafa Mohamed who continues to become more and more of a key player for the Pharaohs with his strength and finishing.

DR Congo

Along with captain Chancel Mbemba, defensive midfielder Charles Pickel is an important component of an improved Congolese defense

On the other end, it appeared that the attack of DR Congo would be the strength for the Leopards but goals are not coming easily. Veteran striker Cédric Bakambu is misfiring and the strong defenses of Group F found a way to mostly frustrate star players like Yoane Wissa, Théo Bongonda and Gaël Kakuta. Head coach Sébastien Desabre embraced the role of underdog for his team in pre-match comments but the Frenchman knows his team are more than capable of improving their performance to upstage the Pharaohs.

The good news for Desabre is the emergence of a strong defense led by captain and central defender Chancel Mbemba. Experienced fullbacks Gédéon Kalulu (right flank) and Arthur Masuaku (left side) are also making good contributions and Masuaku can also add to the Congolese attack. Swiss-born midfielder Charles Pickel is a highly valued player for Desabre with his high activity, ability to win the ball and harassment of the opposition’s best attacker.

Samuel Moutoussamy will partner Pickel in the center of the midfield and acts as the link to the creative players of the Congolese attack. Kakuta operates in a central role where the former Chelsea FC starlet has the skill to create danger off the dribble or with his passing. Yoane Wissa is the star of the attack on the left wing and the greatest goal threat due to his speed and runs behind the defense. Bongonda is disappointing in Ivory Coast and it appears that Stuttgart attacker Silas Katompa will begin on the right flank. Considering that backup striker Fiston Mayele failed to impress in a 0-0 draw with Tanzania to conclude play in Group F, experienced forward Bakambu will likely be given another chance to rediscover his shooting boots.

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