Tuesday 30 November 2021, 00:00

Title contenders open Arab Cup campaigns

  • Matchday 2 kicks off with the African champions against Sudan

  • Tough tests in store for Morocco and Egypt against Palestine and Jordan respectively

  • A youthful Saudi team face an experienced Jordanian side

Day 2 of the group phase of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ features another four enticing matches at four separate stadia, which will no doubt serve up similar levels of excitement to that seen on the opening day.

Matches on Wednesday 1 December 2021 (all times local)

Group C: Morocco-Palestine (Al Janoub Stadium, 19:00) Saudi Arabia-Jordan (Education City Stadium, 22:00) Group D: Algeria-Sudan (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, 13:00) Egypt-Lebanon (Al Thumama Stadium, 16:00)

A tough test

Egypt begin their quest for glory with a stern test against Lebanon. The latter showed their potential during Qatar 2022 qualifying against IR Iran and Korea Republic and could well make things difficult for the Pharaohs. The North African side have some fearsome competitors in their ranks, including the recently called-up Ahmed Hegazy, Mohamed Afsha and Mohamed Elshenawy. No walk in the park

Morocco can also expect a tough time when they take on Palestine, a side that have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. The Atlas Lions come into the tournament with a new-look squad to that used for recent World Cup qualifiers and will be coached by Houcine Ammouta, who led a squad of home-based players to success at the 2020 African Nations Championship in Cameroon. Some of those local talents, such as Ashraf bin Sharqi, look set to break into Vahid Halilhodzic’s senior team.

Youth versus experience

In the other Group C match Saudi Arabia take on Jordan. The Green Falcons have opted for a youthful squad for this tournament, as they look to prepare their emerging players for future tests. First up, they face a Jordanian team that has been reinforced with experienced names such as Baha Faisal, Baha Suleiman, and Yaseen Bakheet. All this nicely sets up a battle between youth and experience.

African champions aim to continue winning streak

On paper, Algeria look a superior team to Sudan, as evidenced by the former’s better placement in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking and recent form in Qatar 2022 qualifying. However, all that will be academic on the pitch, where Algeria will need to prove their worth against a stubborn Sudanese team coached by the highly regarded Frenchman, Hubert Velud. The Greens are led up front by the lethal duo of Bounedjah Baghdad and Youcef Belaili.

The quote

"There’s always rivalry and passion when two Arab sides meet. We’ll be striving to win the title, although it won’t be easy with strong contenders from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as the likes of Iraq, UAE, Lebanon and Sudan, who have brought their first teams." Madjid Bougherra, Algeria’s coach for this tournament