Weariness will worry Egypt as they seek to extend an Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals winning streak to six matches by beating Burkina Faso in Libreville Wednesday.
Surprise survivors Burkina Faso overcame Tunisia in the first quarter-final last Saturday evening, more than 24 hours before Egypt edged Morocco in the last. Many pundits believe this could give the west Africans an advantage at Stade de l’Amitie in the Gabonese capital, especially if the match went to extra time.
Argentina-born Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted he was concerned about the shorter recovery time his team have compared to Burkina Faso. “It is not an ideal situation, but we have no choice but to adapt,” said the greying 61-year-old former Valencia and Inter Millan manager.
“The players will be given time to rehabilitate and hopefully they will be ready come Wednesday night.”
A calf injury rules out Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny and striker Marwan Mohsen is a doubtful starter owing to a knee problem. Despite the disadvantages, record seven-time African champions Egypt will be expected to continue a remarkably successful semi-finals run spanning 31 years.
The Pharaohs eliminated Morocco (1986), Burkina Faso (1998), Senegal (2006), the Ivory Coast (2008) and Algeria (2010) to reach finals, all of which they won. Egypt have reserved some of their finest performances for the last-four stage, thrashing Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast 4-1 in Ghana and Algeria 4-0 in Angola.
A wide winning margin against the Burkinabe Stallions is unlikely, however, as Egypt have clawed rather than cruised past opponents in Gabon. Following a 0-0 draw with Mali, they achieved three consecutive 1-0 victories against Uganda, 2015 runners-up Ghana and Herve Renard-coached Morocco.