Saturday Nov 18, 2023. 15:00
Egypt head coach Rui Vitoria has warned his team of the potential pitfalls awaiting them in Group A ahead of their 2026 World Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium on Sunday.
Kick-off is at 6pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
The Pharaohs made a flying start to their qualifying campaign as they thrashed Djibouti 6-0 in Cairo on Thursday, with Mohamed Salah scoring four goals.
Vitoria had stressed the importance of taking all their opponents in the group seriously before the clash with the Shoremen of the Red Sea, citing past defeats to Sudan and Zambia as examples of complacency from the North African giants in World Cup qualifying.
The Portuguese tactician does not expect the Leone Stars to roll over for his team in Monrovia after their “rare” big victory against the minnows from East Africa.
“Winning 6-0 is a positive outcome, especially considering that such victories are rare,” Vitoria said. “I am aware of the significant difference between the two sides in terms of FIFA and CAF rankings, so the victory was expected.
“However, it does not mean that the game was easy, as I firmly believe that there are no easy games in modern football. Our group in the qualifiers is not easy, and everyone knows that winning away from home in Africa is an extremely challenging mission.
“There are various circumstances that can hinder the team, such as the heat, long trips, and the enthusiasm of the opposing fans. This group is by no means easy.”
Sierra Leone picked up a point in their opening match of the qualifiers after playing out to a 0-0 draw with Ethiopia in El Jadida, Morocco on Wednesday.
Amidu Karim’s side had a disappointing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, winning just one of their six games to finish third in Group A behind Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau.
But the Leone Stars drew 1-1 with Benin and claimed a 2-0 victory over Somalia in last month’s friendlies to boost their morale for the November qualifiers.
Karim, who enjoyed a successful playing career in Egypt’s top flight during the 1990s, has urged his players to embrace the challenge of going up against some of Africa’s best footballers.
“We will play hard against the Egyptian national team and I think it will be a great match,” he said in the build-up to his weekend’s encounter.
“Egypt has very distinguished players, and I am happy to be with them in the group. The friction with strong teams is beneficial for us.”