Everyone remembers the events that unfolded the last time these two fierce rivals met. After identical World Cup Qualification records, the two teams met in Sudan for a winner-takes-all encounter. However, ‘Les Fennecs’ 1-0 victory made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with reports of brawling between fans and stones being hurled at the Algerian coach.
The scenes of jubilation that followed from Rabah Saadane’s side made it evident how crucial the victory was, something which Algeria will be looking to repeat when they meet the ‘Pharaohs’ at the semi-final stage. Both sides will most probably perform on pure adrenaline alone, following excruciating extra time victories in the quarter finals. ‘Les Fennecs’ superb victory over tournament favourites the Ivory Coast was undoubtedly one of the most enthralling games of the tournament so far, whilst Egypt scraped past Cameroon 3-1.
- Karim Ziani could trouble the ‘Pharaohs’ defence
Algeria showed their stubbornness against the ‘Elephants’, although a different approach will be needed to break down the ‘Pharaohs’. Egypt will consist of far more controlled dimension, with sudden bursts of attacking intent – something ‘Les Fennecs’ will have to be wary of. Midfield dynamo Ahmed Hassan will look to pick the pockets of the Algerian midfield, linking up with frontman Mohamed Zidan, a potentially lethal partnership. If the likes of Portsmouth pairing Hassan Yebda and Nadir Belhadj can keep these two quiet, then Algeria could spring their second surprise of the tournament, setting up a final with either Nigeria or Ghana.
- Ahmed Hassan will be Egypt’s one to watch
However, Egypt have undoubtedly been the most consistent side at this years’ African Cup of Nations. A shaky start eventually saw them overcome an experienced Nigerian side 3-1, before comfortable victories over Benin and Mozambique set up their quarter final clash with Cameroon, a repeat of 2008’s final. Only a strong, efficient Algerian performance will set up a chance of victory, with key man Karim Ziani likely to star. The Wolfsburg winger has something to prove after a disappointing campaign so far, and this could be his chance to shine.
- Rabah Saadane will be desperate to beat their North African rivals
In all fairness, I wouldn’t be surprised if Algeria beat Egypt, but they will certainly have to be at their best. Motivation should play no part, with not only the bragging rights at stake but a place in the final, but bookies’ favourites Egypt should have too much in their locker for the largely inexperienced ‘Desert Foxes’.
Prediction: Egypt 2-0 Algeria