Hosts Egypt meet South Africa in the round of 16 in this year’s African Cup of Nations, with the match kicking off on Saturday at 9:00pm local time in Caro, Egypt. South African qualified by the skin of their teeth, but have been given the unenviable task of trying to halt the hosts. Will Egypt falter at an early stage?

Egypt

Egypt started the tournament as favourites, and their group stage showing can only add fuel to that tag, as they won all games without conceding a goal. In front of a huge crowd of 70,000+, and having the star man of the tournament Mohammed Salah at their disposal, they are a mammoth task for anyone to take on. So far, they have defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 on the opening day, before winning 2-0 against DR Congo, and finished the group stage with another 2-0 win against Uganda.

Mohammed Salah and Ahmed Elmohamady are the unlikely tag-team that have each scored a goal apiece in their most recent two matches. Aside from them, Trézéguet has also got on the goal scoring charts with his sublime goal in the tournament’s opener. Egypt will admit that anything less than the trophy is a failure, so losing in the last 16 would be unthinkable. Surely, with the hostile atmosphere on their side, they’ll have too much for South Africa?

South Africa

Due to the new format, which is now adopted in the European Championships, the best four of the six 3rd place teams qualify the knock-out round, and all four will face winners of a group. South Africa, were actually the 4th best 3rd place team, so the thin line of progression and elimination was so slim you wouldn’t be able to see it. In a tough group containing the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Namibia, they expectedly finished 3rd.

In their opening match, they lost 1-0 to the Ivory Coast which put their qualification bid under immense pressure, but their performance would have given them some positivity, which they carried into the 2nd game with Namibia, which they won 1-0. In their final game, they lost to a last minute winner to Morocco, in a game South Africa failed to take a shot on target, as they finished their group matches with just three points. It felt like that late goal had eliminated them, but courtesy of other results on the next day, it was actually enough to see them go through, and fancy arguably the toughest possible task – Egypt.

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Head to Head

South Africa and Egypt have only faced each other 11 times in their history, with South Africa winning on six occasions, to Egypt’s four. They have never met in a World Cup qualifying match, and most of their clashes have been friendlies. In African Cup of Nations history, they have met each other four times, with Egypt winning twice, back in 1996 and 1998, with their other two meetings happening in the qualification matches in 2011, with South Africa one and the other ending in a draw. In Egypt, South Africa have only won once, in a friendly back in 2006. Their only meeting in the last 8 years was another friendly in 2016, which South Africa won 1-0. Egypt need to go back to 2006 for their last victory in this fixture.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Egypt are priced at 4/7 to win this match, with South Africa at 11/2. For the sides to draw, and therefore take the game into extra time, that is backed at 5/2. To qualify for the quarter finals outright Egypt are at 1/4 with South Africa priced at 11/4. I can only see one outcome here, and that is Egypt to put South Africa to the sword.

I predict a comfortable 2-0 win here at 5/1. South Africa will aim to frustrate, put bodies behind the ball, but will ultimately succumb to the pressure and constant bombardment that Salah and co will conjure up. Salah is at 8/11 to score at any time, with him at 5/1 to score a brace.

To boost winnings on an Egyptian win, you can back them to win both halves at 3/1, score 4+ goals at 10/1, or even win from behind at 12/1. If you would like to back South Africa in some capacity, you can bet on them to earn a 0-0 draw at half time at 11/8, or even win any half at 11/4.

Finally, it may take some time for Egypt to knock down the door, so consider betting on the first goal to be scored from minute 71 to 80, priced at a generous 16/1.

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