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Difficult to imagine hosts Egypt not winning Group A at Africa Cup

Johannesburg, Thursday @PeopleSports11

Hosts Egypt are favoured not only to win Group A at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations this June, but to go on and lift the trophy a record-extending eighth time.

They possess in serial Liverpool scorer Mohamed Salah (pictured) an African superstar and can expect passionate support as they seek a first title since edging Ghana in the 2010 final.

Egypt have faced all their group rivals, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, before at the Cup of Nations, winning seven matches and losing only one.

While the hosts are poised to top the standings, there is little to choose between the other three teams with the top two finishers guaranteed round-of-16 places.

Here are the prospects of the Group A sides ahead of the June 21 tournament opener between Egypt and Zimbabwe in Cairo.

DR Congo

The two-time champions struggled to qualify with a nervous 1-0 last-match win over modest Liberia in Kinshasa squeezing them through as runners-up beneath Zimbabwe.

Outsiders in 2015, they finished third behind the Ivory Coast and Ghana in Equatorial Guinea, then made a timid last-eight exit two years ago in Gabon when more was expected of them.

Cedric Bakambu brings stealth and Yannick Bolasie and Elia Meschak pace to the attack while the defence is likely to include Arthur Masuaku from Premier League club West Ham United.

Verdict: Could be heading home after first round, or reach the quarter-finals.

Uganda

After going 39 years without qualifying since finishing 1978 runners-up to hosts Ghana, Uganda will make back-to-back appearances in the Cup of Nations.

They had a comfortable qualifying passage under French coach Sebastien Desabre, not losing nor conceding in five matches before a dead-rubber defeat in Tanzania.

Winless in Gabon two years ago, the Cranes are banking on veteran South Africa-based goalkeeper Denis Onyango to inspire a better showing this time.

Verdict: Will do well to reach knockout phase

Zimbabwe

The lowest ranked of the four teams will rely heavily on stars based in South Africa as they aim to progress beyond the group stage for the first time in four attempts.

Verdict: Capable of making second round for first time.  -AFP

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