Egypt begin African title defence

The 2006 champions go up against Group C rivals Cameroon, while Sudan face Zambia.

    Egypt won a record fifth African Cup on home soil in 2006, but can they defend their title? [GALLO/GETTY]

    Up against Egypt in their opening match will be Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who is on a mission to break the tournament's all-time goalscoring record.
     
    The Barcelona striker is three goals shy of the 38-year-old mark of 14 held by Laurent Pokou of the Ivory Coast.
     
    In video


    Andy Richardson reports ahead
    of the opening Group C match

    Cameroon and Egypt renew a rivalry that last played out in a 2006 World Cup qualifier when a draw in Yaounde cost the Indomitable Lions a place at the finals in Germany.
     
    "We have a genuinely good chance of winning the tournament," Otto Pfister, Cameroon coach, said.
     
    Eto'o is seen as key to their chances if he continues the strong club form he has shown for Barcelona since recovering from injury late last year.
     
    "On his day, I'd even say he's the best striker in the world," added Pfister.
     
    Sudan return to the finals
     

    "We have a genuinely good chance of winning the tournament."

    Otto Pfister,
    Cameroon coach

    The striker could benefit from a makeshift Egypt defence that has been forced to recall Ibahim Said even though he has been out of club action for six months and played just one international since the Pharaohs won the title two years ago.
     
    To make things more difficult, Egypt will be without captain Ahmed Hassan, who is suspended for the opening match.
     
    Later on Tuesday, Sudan and Zambia play in the other Group C match at the refurbished stadium in Ghana's second city.
     
    It is Sudan's first appearance at the finals in 32 years but, despite an impressive qualifying campaign, they are given little chance in the tournament.
     
    Patrick Phiri, Zambia coach, said his side had a comprehensive build-up to the tournament, with warm-up matches in Spain, Tunisia and Morocco.
     
    "We are the best prepared we have ever been for a tournament," Phiri told Reuters.
     
    However the Zambians have key striker Chris Katongo and midfielder Isaac Chansa suspended for their first fixture of the tournament.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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