Africa News Bulletin

Egypt: Egypt coach calls for AFCON final delay which would hit Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool plans

Egypt’s assistant manager has called for the Africa Cup of Nations final to be delayed by 24 hours to allow his team to recover from their gruelling semi-final victory against Cameroon.

Diaa El-Sayed believes the showpiece event should be played on Monday – instead of Sunday as planned – to give both teams at least four days to prepare.

Egypt progressed to the final after edging hosts Cameroon on penalties on Thursday.

Their opponents Senegal, meanwhile, progressed to the last stage by beating Burkina Faso 3-1 on Wednesday, thus allowing them another day to recover.

“We are the only team that played 120 minutes in three consecutive games,” said El-Sayed after Egypt’s semi-final triumph.

He added: “I hope CAF [the governing body] would move the final from Sunday to Monday for the sake of fair play, they have done that with the third-place decider.”

CAF have agreed to move the third-place decider, yet that game has been brought forward 24 hours to Saturday rather than pushed back.

It is is highly unlikely that the final – and subsequently the tournament – will be delayed until Monday because global audiences would prefer to watch it on the weekend.

A delay would also frustrate club managers across Europe, who are desperate to welcome their African stars back for the business end of the season.

Jurgen Klopp is planning on selecting Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s Premier League game against Leicester on Thursday.

“I think they will be available [for Leicester] but we will see,” said Klopp ahead of his team’s FA Cup tie against Cardiff on Sunday afternoon.

“Tuesday or Wednesday latest the winner will be back, the other slightly earlier. I have to talk to them. They have rhythm as [they have] played quite a few games!”

As well as Salah, Egypt have two other Premier League players in their squad: Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny and Aston Villa’s Trezeguet.

Senegal, meanwhile, have six England-based stars at their disposal: Mane, Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy, Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate, Leicester’s Nampalys Mendy, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Queens Park Rangers’ Seny Dieng.

Egypt have won the AFCON a record seven times, while Senegal are yet to claim their maiden title having lost the previous final two-and-a-half years ago.

Discussing his team’s chances, El-Sayed said: “The players are fully focused, they have a good base to build on, and we thank their clubs for that.

“Salah being the group leader gives the players a lot of positive energy as well. We also have a great head coach [Carlos Queiroz] that has a lot of experience dealing with players.”

El-Sayed added: Ï don’t want to discuss refereeing mistakes or the things we suffered throughout the tournament, players determination changes everything on the pitch.

“We appreciate our fans’ support and we’d like to thank them for being there for us. We’ll celebrate tonight [Thursday], but after all, we haven’t won anything yet.”

Original story on News Day

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