Salah, Haller go head to head as heavyweights clash

Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations last-16 tie between Egypt and the Ivory Coast brings together two of the continent’s heavyweight teams who have plenty of history as well as two of the most exciting attacking players in the world just now.

Mohamed Salah leads an Egypt side looking to add to their record haul of seven Afcon titles, while the Ivorians — with Sebastien Haller leading the line — are chasing a third crown.

“We always seem to face big teams with great experience in the competition,” said Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle, whose side beat Algeria 3-1 in their last outing to eliminate the reigning champions.

“They are a very experienced team whose players almost all play in Egypt and so I suppose they are used to African conditions.

“They always turn up in big games, even if they are not playing brilliantly.”

Beaumelle, who has twice won the Cup of Nations as an assistant coach, said he was preparing for a “tight, tactical battle but an exciting game.”

For obvious reasons the focus is drawn to Salah and Haller, even if each has only scored once so far in Cameroon.

The Liverpool forward has 54 goals for his club since the start of last season, including seven this campaign in the Uefa Champions League.

Mohamed Salah has said that if he wins AFCON with Egypt, it will be the trophy that is closest to his heart ahead of their round of 16 game against Ivory Coast.

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 26, 2022

But while Salah has been playing for Egypt for a decade and is at his third Cup of Nations, this is French-born Haller’s first major international tournament.

“In certain aspects the Afcon is more difficult than the Champions League,” Haller admitted on Tuesday.

“Sometimes the conditions are maybe less favourable. We obviously do less work together on the training ground than we do with our clubs, so that all makes it harder.”

The game kicks off at 7PM EAT

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