Egypt will be without Mohamed Elneny for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Burkina Faso, while striker Marwan Mohsen is doubtful with a knee complaint.
Arsenal midfielder Elneny suffered a calf injury in his country’s final group game against Ghana and sat out the quarter-final triumph over Morocco – a match that proved to be a third consecutive 1-0 win for Hector Cuper’s men.
If that run hardly promises a goal rush, the Pharaohs recent record in semi-finals could hint towards them kicking into gear on Wednesday.
The seven-time champions have won their past five matches in the final four, going on to lift the trophy on each occasion.
In 2008, a Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast were thumped 4-1 in Ghana and two years later Egypt romped to a 4-0 win over North African rivals Algeria in Angola.
Veteran head coach Cuper is nonplussed by Burkina Faso enjoying an extra day’s rest after a pair of late goals saw off Tunisia.
“It is not an ideal situation, but we have no choice but to adapt,” he told reporters. “The players will be given time to rehabilitate and hopefully they will be ready come Wednesday night.”
Burkina Faso’s Portuguese boss Paulo Duarte is keen to match the exploits of his side one year ago, when they completed a surprise run to the final in South Africa before going down 1-0 to Nigeria.
“This is a team that I started building seven years ago and I know all their abilities” he said, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“They are a team capable of giving a fantastic show. The quality and the confidence is there.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Burkina Faso – Prejuce Nakoulma
Former Kayserispor forward Nakoulma is currently a free agent and celebrated in exuberant fashion after sealing victory against Tunisia. Another prominent showing and crucial goal could do wonders for a player relishing his high-profile.
Egypt – Essam El Hadary
The 44-year-old goalkeeper became the oldest player in AFCON history when he came on for the injured Ahmed El-Shenawy in Egypt’s opening victory over Mali. Four-time AFCON winner El-Hadary is still yet to concede a goal in the tournament, although his handling under crosses against Morocco did leave some cause for concern. “He is always first on to the training field and the last to leave,” Cuper said.
KEY OPTA STATS
– Egypt have never lost to Burkina Faso (W4 D2) with Abdallah El-Said scoring both goals for Egypt in the most recent encounter, a 2-0 win last February.
– Burkina Faso have the opportunity to equal their longest run of clean sheets in the African Cup of Nations (three games) but they have never managed to record one against Egypt in six previous attempts.
– Egypt have gone 23 AFCON games without defeat (W18 D5), last losing in the 2004 tournament against Algeria and have only conceded one goal across their last nine matches in the finals.
– Five of Egypt’s last six goals in the African Cup of Nations have come between the 80th and 90th minutes.
– Burkina Faso’s last four shots on target in this tournament have resulted in a goal.