AFCON preview: Salah and Mané go in search of glory

21 June 2019

Mohamed Salah has his eye on leading Egypt to an eighth Africa Cup of Nations as the hosts prepare to face Zimbabwe in Cairo.

Salah has been the icon of the Egyptian side in recent years, helping the nation qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The Liverpool hero has had two seasons to remember on Merseyside, scoring 71 goals in 104 appearances and winning the UEFA Champions League last campaign.

Attentions now turn to national glory where Egypt will be looking to put on a show in their own country.

Along with Zimbabwe, Egypt will also face Uganda and DR Congo in the group stages, as the Pharaohs look to go one better than their showing in 2017 where they lost to Cameroon in the final.

Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mané will also be at the competition, representing Senegal in Group C.

Captain of the national team, Mané goes into the tournament with 16 goals from 60 caps.

Senegal also boast one of the best centre-backs in the world in Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Napoli defender has been a rock for club and country in recent seasons and will be one of the key figures in the Senegal side.

Mané will be coming up against a familiar face in the group stages having been drawn against Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria.

Mahrez enjoyed a breakthrough maiden season at Manchester City following his move from Leicester City.

A total of 12 goals in all competitions helped City to the domestic treble.

Defending champions Cameroon will face Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau in the group stages and will be relying upon the likes of Paris Saint-Germain’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Olympique de Marseille’s Clinton N’Jie for goals.

Champions of the 2013 edition, Nigeria are returning to the competition for the first time since lifting the trophy six years ago, having missed the previous two AFCONs.

The Super Eagles have won the competition on three occasions and have been drawn in a group with Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi.

Nigeria will be looking to the likes of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi to help fire them to a fourth title.

The midfielder scored six goals for Unai Emery’s men in the 2018-19 season, laying on nine assists to help the Gunners reach the UEFA Europa League final.

Ivory Coast are another nation hoping to put their name back on the trophy.

Drawn in a tricky group with Morocco, Namibia and South Africa, the Elephants last won the cup in 2015, beating Ghana on penalties.

Following a sensational campaign for Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha will be a key focus for Ivory Coast.

Zaha scored 10 goals in 34 Premier League appearances for the Eagles, helping the club finish in 12th place.