Defender Ahmed Elmohamady is confident Egypt have what it takes to go on and win the African Nations Cup.
The Pharaohs tackle Ghana at Stade de Port-Gentil on Wednesday needing just a point to guarantee joining the Black Stars in the quarter-finals, with victory securing top spot from Group D.
Should Mali fail to beat Uganda in Wednesday’s other Group D match at Stade d’Oyem, then Egypt would also be assured of a place in the last eight.
After opening the competition with a goalless draw against Mali, Hector Cuper’s side saw off Uganda 1-0 with a late goal from Abdallah Said.
Egypt may be the seven-time winners of the African Nations Cup, but they have failed to qualify for the finals since lifting the trophy for a third tournament in succession from 2006 to 2010.
Hull wing-back Elmohamady – who was part of both the 2008 and 2010 squads – believes Cuper’s current group have what it takes to deliver in Gabon.
“The manager always says the one target is to win the (African Nations) Cup, because in Africa everyone knows how good Egypt are, how good we were before when we were winning the cup,” Elmohamady told reporters.
“Not too many players have won it before, but we have some experience in this group that can help the team to go through and win the cup.”
Elmohamady added: “I remember from being here (at the finals) in 2008 and 2010, it was very, very hard before. Some big, big teams played and I think this time it is not that difficult to win it, so we have to just focus and concentrate on our games and enjoy the competition.”
Ghana are already secured of a place in the quarter-finals, having opened up the tournament with a 1-0 win over Uganda and then also beaten Mali.
Black Stars coach Avram Grant is determined to get a positive result following the 2-0 loss against the Pharaohs in November’s 2018 World Cup qualifier.
“Egypt are a very good team and they know how to play good football. It will be hard, it will be tough, but I love challenges,” said Grant, who is to leave his role at the end of the tournament.
If you watched our last game with Egypt in Alexandria in the World Cup qualifiers, you will notice that we dominated the game completely, our goalkeeper didn’t get to touch the ball most of the match, but in the end, we lost.
We will stick to our philosophy, but we will change a few things tactically. We want to win on Wednesday, and to improve in every game we play.”