Preview: Egypt vs. Malawi
In the first of their mouth-watering 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header, Egypt welcome Malawi to Cairo’s 30 June Stadium on Friday.
With all four teams in Group D tied on three points, both sides will head into the weekend looking to get into the catbird seat as they look to secure their spot in Ivory Coast.
Having missed out on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the goal for Egypt will be to secure their place in the 2023 AFCON and make it a record-extending 26th participation in the continental showpiece.
The Pharaohs saw their World Cup dreams dashed by a bogey Senegal side who clinched the qualification ticket courtesy of a 3-1 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw over the two legs of the playoffs.
This was a second bitter taste of “what could have been” for Rui Vitoria’s men, who also suffered a penalty-shootout defeat to Senegal in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations final in Cameroon last February
Now looking forward, Egypt have set their sights on a fourth consecutive AFCON appearance since missing out on the continental tournament between 2012 and 2015.
The African footballing powerhouse kicked off their qualifying campaign last June when Mostafa Mohamed’s solitary strike handed them a 1-0 win over Guinea, four days before crashing back to earth in a shock 2-0 loss to Ethiopia.
With 12 points still up for grabs in Group D, there is plenty of room for optimism for Egypt, who are currently the most decorated side in AFCON history with seven continental crowns under their belt.
Vitoria’s side also head into the weekend on a fine run of form, winning each of their last three matches while scoring eight goals and conceding once since last June’s 4-1 friendly loss to South Korea.
However, we do not expect Malawi to be easily run over as the Southeastern nation have shown intent on securing two back-to-back AFCON appearances for the very first time.
Making their first appearance in over a decade, the Flames finished as one of the four best losers in Cameroon last year, before their tournament was cut short in the quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-1 loss to Morocco.
Malawi’s form ahead of their return to the qualifiers has nothing to write home about though as they failed to qualify for the 2022 Africa Nations Championships last August after losing to Mozambique on away goals.
This followed an even more disappointing outing in last year’s COSAFA Cup for all Southern African nations, where they managed one win and picked up four points from a possible nine to finish third in Group B.
Like Egypt, a place in the 2023 AFCON remains up for grabs for Mario Marinica’s men, who also have three points from their opening two matches, thanks to a 2-1 opening-day victory over Ethiopia on June 5.
Malawi will draw inspiration from their form in the AFCON qualifiers as they are currently on a run of three wins in their last four qualifying matches, stretching back to a goalless draw with Burkina Faso in November 2020.
However, they must see off the threat of a star-studded Egypt side who are unbeaten in seven of the last 10 between the nations, claiming five wins and two draws since their first meeting in July 1978.
Egypt Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying form:
Egypt form (all competitions):
Malawi Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying form:
Malawi form (all competitions):
We say: Egypt 2-0 Malawi
Even overlooking their home advantage, Egypt head into the weekend on a fine run of form, giving them an extra edge. Malawi must pull one out of the hat if they hope to cause an upset, but we see the hosts prevailing in what should be a thrilling affair.