James Cormack (@jamesxyyx) previews Egypt v DR Congo and provides us with his best bets for this group A clash in this year’s AFCON by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.

  • 2019 Profit & Loss: +1.19pts

Egypt v DR Congo Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

  • Date: 26/06/19
  • Time: 21:00
  • Venue: Cairo International Stadium
  • Channel: Eurosport

The second-round of group stage fixtures in this year’s African Cup of Nations gets underway on Wednesday, with hosts Egypt taking on outsiders DR Congo in the final game of the day.

Egypt, who came into this tournament as second-favourites behind Senegal, started off their campaign with a nervy 1-0 win over Zimbabwe, with a 41st minute Mahmoud Trezeguet strike being enough to take home three points in what was the first game of the competition.

This is an Egypt squad that will be looking to redeem themselves after a poor 2018 World Cup, where they lost all three group games. Hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations is the perfect opportunity for redemption and with some of the talent within this Egypt side, there’s no reason why they can’t win their first AFCON since 2010 and their eighth overall.

Liverpool’s Mo Salah is The Pharaohs main man. Salah had yet another fine season on Merseyside, scoring 30 goals in all competitions last season and helping Liverpool to 97 points in the Premier League as well as their 6th Champions League title. You’d certainly think that if Egypt go far in this competition, he’d have something to do with it.

Salah, along with Kasimpasa’s Trezeguet, make up a formidable duo on the wings for Javier Aguirre’s side in what is usually a 4-2-3-1. Trezeguet, who registered 18 G+A’s in the Super Lig in Turkey last season, demonstrated his talent against Zimbabwe on matchday one. The 24-year-old scored a fine goal, one that ended up being the winner, and was instrumental throughout, being awarded MOTM. He’s a player to look out for this tournament and if he can consistently perform to the level that he showed against Zimbabwe, then I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a summer move to one of Europe’s top five leagues.

Javier Aguirre’s appointment after the 2018 World Cup was a controversial one, one that was initially poorly received by the Egyptian fans. The Mexican has had some high profile jobs in the past, taking charge of Mexico (on two occasions), Japan (2014-2015) and Atletico Madrid (2006-2009), but has little success in terms of winning anything as a manager.

I wouldn’t expect to see a great brand of football played by the Pharaoh’s this summer, with Aguirre in his previous roles lacking any significant tactical creativity or innovation. One thing that Aguirre has brought, however, is effectiveness and efficiency, with Egypt losing on just one occasion under Aguirre in 9 games. He will have some work to do if he is to out-do the work done by his predecessor, Hector Cuper. During a three year spell, Cuper guided Egypt to their first World Cup since 1990 as well as the AFCON final in 2017, where they lost to Cameroon. What better way for Aguirre to leave his mark on Egyptian football than victory in the African Cup of Nations on home soil.

Wednesday’s opponents, however, will be no push-over. DR Congo have got some well-established attacking talent within their squad and will be looking to open up group A with a result against the hosts.

Although he’s past his prime, Yannick Bolasie can be a problem for any defence on his day. The winger made 133 appearances for Crystal Palace before a £30m move to Everton in 2016 ultimately led to his demise. Last season he was loaned to Villa as well as Anderlecht and during his time in Belgium, Bolasie showed glimpses of a return to form, scoring 6 goals in 17 appearances.

Another name you may be familiar with is Cedric Bakambu, formerly of Villarreal. During his time in Spain, Bakambu registered 32 goals in 75 games between 2015 and 2018, before he opted for a move to Beijing Guoan. The striker enjoyed a fine season in the Chinese Super League, scoring 23 in 27 and he’s somebody that could pose a threat to this Egyptian side on Wednesday night.

DR Congo’s chances for progression into the last 16 were scuppered on Saturday after Florent Ibenge’s side were condemned to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Uganda, leaving the Leopard’s bottom of group A. However, with the four (out of six) best third-place finishers also progressing to the last 16, DR Congo will still be alive even if they don’t get a result here as well. Victory against Zimbabwe in their final group fixture would leave them on 3 points and could well be enough to see them through to the knockout stages.

For Egypt, nothing short of a win here will be a disappointment. They’ll want to finish the group on 9 points and get one of the third-placers in the last 16.

Team News        

No injury news to report on either side.

Potential Egypt Starting XI: El-Shenawy, Elmohamady, Alaa, Hegazy, Ashraf, Hamed, Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen

Potential DR Congo Starting XI: Matampi, Issama, Luyindama, Tisserand, Masuaku, Elia, Bope, Mbemba, Bolasie, Bolingi, Bakambu

Head To Head

  • All-time: Egypt-5, Draw-2, DR Congo-0.

Key Stats & Facts

  • Despite being massive favourites for this one, Egypt are ranked 58th in the world, 9 places behind Wednesday’s opponents.
  • Egypt are also ranked as the 8th best African side in FIFA’s world rankings but are second-favourites to win this competition outright.
  • Egypt reached the final back in 2017 before they lost 2-1 to Cameroon in the final.
  • DR Congo reached the quarter-final in 2017 where they were knocked out by Ghana.
  • DR Congo have won the AFCON twice (1968, 1974) when they were known as ‘Zaire’. Since then, their best finish is third (1998, 2015).
  • On 11 occasions has the host country gone on to win the tournament, with Egypt themselves winning as hosts 3 times. However, it hasn’t happened since Egypt hosted and won in 2006.
  • Mo Salah is Egypt’s third all-time leading goal scorer with 39 international goals.

Betting Odds

  • Egypt 1/2
  • Draw 10/3
  • DR Congo 7/1

The Verdict

Defeat to Uganda was a big upset for DR Congo and that result has convinced me that they’ll struggle against one of the pre-tournament favourites, as well as the hosts. With Egypt too short to back outright at ½, I’m looking at the goals market as well in order to find some value. So, one of the bets I like is Egypt to win with under 2.5 goals. Egypt boss, Javier Aguirre, isn’t one of the finest attacking minds in football and is more about result than performance, which is perfectly fine in tournament football. We saw Egypt struggle somewhat going forward in their first game, winning by a 1-0 margin, and I think we could be in for something similar against a DR Congo team that has conceded 2 or more in a game on just two occasions in their last 8 games. Also, DR Congo’s last 6 outings have all ended with under 2.5 goals which leads me to believe that they’ll struggle to break down an Egypt defence that has certainly improved under Aguirre.

Another bet that I think is pretty good value is Mo Salah to score at 6/5. Salah was unable to break through against Zimbabwe and instead, it was Mahmoud Trezeguet who scored the winner. One feature of Aguirre’s teams is that there’s a great emphasis on using the wings going forward, something that Salah and Trezeguet will thrive off. Although I don’t rate Salah as much as others, there’s no denying that he scores goals and a lot of them. Over the past two seasons, Salah has scored over 70 goals for Liverpool and scored Egypt’s only two goals in last summer’s World Cup. I’m going to back the Liverpool hero to get his 2019 AFCON underway in Cairo on Wednesday.

Recommended Bets

  • 2pts – Egypt to win and under 2.5 goals – 19/10 (Betway)
  • 2pts – Mo Salah anytime – 6/5 (Sporting Bet)