Egypt head coach Carlos Queiroz believes his troops have begun to peak at the perfect time as they charge towards winning their eighth Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title after beating Sudan 1-0 on Wednesday night to book a place in the last 16.
The Pharaohs’ group stage campaign was characterised by a knack of grinding out results without playing well, with two wins from their three matches.
Mohamed Abdelmoniem scored the only goal of the game against Sudan to ensure Egypt finish in second place, behind Nigeria in Group D.
Queiroz, who described the group stage as a warm-up for the knockout phase, believes they could have scored more goals last night.
“We played with the same pace against Sudan for 90 minutes, and sometimes they tried to make counter-attacks. We could have scored five goals,” he said.
“The real tournament begins now, and everything is for the winner and nothing for the loser. We want to face the best because you have to face the big ones to be the best.
“It is not important how we start, but it is important how we end, and everything that has passed is a warm-up,” concluded the Egypt coach.
In the other game on Wednesday, Nigeria beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 to join Egypt in the round of 16.
Afcon Fixtures, Thursday, 20 January
Ivory Coast v Algeria (18:00)
Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (18:00)
Gambia v Tunisia (21:00)
Mali v Mauritania (21:00)