Egypt will look to secure a place in the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations when they face off against Cape Verde in their final group-stage match at Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Monday night.

With both matches in Group B kicking off simultaneously, the Pharaohs will see this as a must-win fixture, having only managed to earn two points from their opening two matches in the competition.

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has already been an incredible one for Cape Verde, and it is far from over, as they are assured of a place in the knockout rounds regardless of the outcome of this match.

The Blue Sharks got their cup campaign off to a dream start as they overcame a sloppy Ghana side 2-1, thanks to a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Ankaragucu forward Garry Rodrigues.

That gave Cape Verde a somewhat unexpected lead in the group standings after matchday one, but they followed that up with an even better performance last Thursday when they comprehensively overcame Mozambique 3-0 to secure the top spot with a match in hand.

Bubista’s side’s victory over the Mambas was just their fourth-ever victory at the AFCON and was also the first time that the team had ever won consecutive games in their history in the competition.

While the pressure may be off The Blue Sharks in this match, they will still want to claim another big scalp here, which will also see them head into the knockout stages with incredible momentum.

Meanwhile, Egypt have struggled to make an impact in the tournament thus far and it began when they played to a 2-2 draw against group outsiders Mozambique in their opening match last Sunday.

In the next match, the Pharaohs recorded another 2-2 draw, this time against Ghana, and many may argue that the point they received was somewhat fortuitous, with errors from The Black Stars contributing significantly to the final outcome.

Prior to those results, Egypt had not conceded more than a single goal in 11 AFCON matches, and it was the first time that they failed to win their first two matches in this competition since 1992.

The Pharaohs are now in a precarious position as they could find themselves knocked out of the competition if they lose here and one of Ghana or Mozambique win the other match in the group, which kicks off at the same time as this one.

Egypt have only ever failed to make it to the knockout stages once in their last 12 appearances in this competition, and their task will be that much more difficult without the services of their captain Mohamed Salah.

Bubista has sent out the same starting 11 in his side’s first two matches in this competition, but with qualification already secured, the Cape Verde coach may consider handing starts to a few of those who have had limited time to make an impact.

If that were to be the case, the likes of Gilson Tavares and Rodrigues are among the favourites to make the starting lineup, having featured off the bench in both matches in the competition so far.

For Egypt, the major talking point is around the exclusion of Salah, who sustained an injury against Ghana in the last match and is expected to miss at least the next two matches for Egypt, provided they qualify from the group.

The absence of the Liverpool talisman could see Mostafa Fathi take his place as he did after Salah was withdrawn in the last match, while Trezeguet will also be pushing for a starting role after a bright cameo off the bench last time out