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Senegal and Egypt face off for the third time in little over a month on Tuesday night in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off.
Egypt have a slender 1-0 lead, but their advantage was acquired in somewhat fortunate circumstances in the fourth minute of their first leg clash, when Mo Salah’s shot hammered off the bar and ricocheted off visiting defender Saliou Ciss before the ball trickled into an empty net.
Senegal certainly had their chances to level, but a notoriously tough Egyptian defence held firm. Will that be the case again in Diamniadio?
Read on for our full match preview and expert football betting tips.
This clash has a history of delivering cagey encounters, with both teams scoring on only one occasion in the 14 meetings they’ve had.
We’ve had a measly 15 goals in those games too, at an average of barely over one goal per 90 minutes, and the way in which the two-legged tie is balanced is further reason to believe we’re set for another tense encounter with little in the way of goalmouth action.
Egypt are defensively rigid at the best of times, so they’ll be even more compact knowing that they just need to keep a clean sheet to secure their passage to the 2022 World Cup, and even if they do concede, a 1-0 win would give them another shot at glory via extra time and penalties.
The Senegalese will have to patient as they look to break through an Egypt side that have conceded just once in their last seven games. With that in mind, we think Under 1.5 Goals – available at 11/10 with bet365 as well with the other major sports betting sites – has a great chance.
The AFCON champions have work to do if they’re going to complete a perfect start to 2022, but after overcoming Egypt in a gruelling continental final at the start of February, they’ll still feel they have a psychological edge of sorts.
And their home form is very good, with just one defeat in their last 20 as hosts. That said, none of the visiting sides in that stretch had the defensive resilience of this Egypt outfit, making this arguably the toughest test on the continent.
They had their moments in Cairo, with Sadio Mane having a couple of sniffs at goal, but there was little in the way of genuine clear-cut chances as they looked to restore parity after going behind early on. It’s not panic stations just yet, but you get the feeling that a similarly early home breakthrough is required if the Lions Of Teranga are going to make significant inroads.
Manager Aliou Cisse has a virtually full-strength squad to choose from.
It was a job well done in the first leg and Egypt are now just 90 minutes away from exacting the perfect post-AFCON revenge on Senegal.
Their fourth minute goal was the ideal start, giving them all the ammo they needed to sit in and defend robustly as the visitors tried in vain to create any significant openings.
We mentioned earlier that they’d conceded just once in their last seven competitive games, but even Morocco’s strike against them during AFCON came via the penalty spot, and you have to go back to Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Nigeria in their tournament opener for the last time they conceded a goal in open play.
They’re not the most entertaining side in the world to watch, but they have a cunning knack for getting these games right, and they have added luxury of knowing that a repeat of the 90-minute result in the AFCON final would get them to Qatar.
And with their defensive record, it’s hard to back against the Pharaohs.
Like their opponents, Egypt came through the first leg unscathed and have a fully fit squad to choose from.
This will be the 15th meeting between the two sides, with Egypt having a slight advantage with seven wins compared to Senegal’s five.
With just 15 goals in the previous 14 meetings, it’s safe to say we aren’t expecting a classic.
The Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade is box-fresh in the stadium stakes, having been inaugurated as recently as a month ago.
The ground is named after former Senegal president Abdoulaye Wade and holds up to 50,000 spectators in the city of Diamniadio, around 20 miles from the capital, Dakar.
An early goal could change the complexion of this tie, but with the way Egypt go about things, we just can’t see Senegal making a breakthrough until at least the second half.
The size of the task facing the hosts can’t be underestimated, and they too will know they’ll have to patient in their pursuit of World Cup glory. It would take a brave punter to pick out a winner of this tie, but with the history of this fixture showing a distinct lack of goals, plus the stakes hanging on Tuesday’s game, we’re expecting another goal-shy evening.