The Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre is confident that his side will not be overwhelmed by facing hosts Egypt at the Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in June.
Cranes were drawn in Group A with hosts Egypt, Zimbabwe and DR Congo, they will face the Pharaohs in their final group game on June 30.
“We’re in Egypt’s group, and they’re a team we know well. Personally, I know them very well as I worked in Egypt (five months with club side Ismaily SC), and we’ve played against them several times,” Desabre told ESPN.
Led by Liverpool star Mohamad Salah, Egypt appears the superior side on paper but Desabre is drawing inspiration from their recent meetings with the Pharaohs.
Although Desabre was not in charge of Uganda then, Salah featured in all three recent matches, scoring once in a 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier 1-0 win at the Borg El Arab in September 2017. Uganda had beaten Egypt 1-0 in Kampala a month earlier in the reverse fixture.
Earlier that year, the two sides were in the same group at the AFCON tournament in Gabon, with the Pharaohs sweating before Salah set up Abdalla El Said to score the all-important goal right at the death to edge Uganda Cranes 1-0.
“When we play against Egypt, the boys know that it’s possible (to get a result). (We’ve) beaten them in World Cup qualification, at the last Afcon they only scored in the 89th minute.”
“It’s very difficult, and they’re favorites, but it’s not too bad to play against them either. Egypt are strong individually, and maybe as a group, they’re a little less strong than in previous years, but they’ll be pushed by their supporters,” he noted.
A number of Uganda players who featured in recent meetings with Egypt are expected to be at the upcoming AFCON, led by captain Denis Onyango who has participated in the last three matches between the two sides.
Desabre however thinks that the winner of the tournament will either be Senegal, Nigeria or Morocco.
“Senegal, Nigeria and Morocco are really the favorites, but Egypt are too, because they’re hosting the tournament,” he noted.
The 32nd AFCON edition which will be the fast with 24 teams and will also kickoff on June 21st and will go until July 19 in five different Egyptian cities