Safri's Morocco tipped for an early exit

Tottenham star Mido today offered anxious Norwich City fans a glimmer of hope on Youssef Safri's return date by slapping his money on an Egypt-Ivory Coast showdown in the final of the African Cup of Nations.

Tottenham star Mido today offered anxious Norwich City fans a glimmer of hope on Youssef Safri's return date by slapping his money on an Egypt-Ivory Coast showdown in the final of the African Cup of Nations.

For given that Mido's Egypt, Safri's Morocco and Ivory Coast are all in Group A of the tournament which opens in Cairo tomorrow, should Mido's tip hold true then the Atlas Lions could be joining outsiders Libya on the first plane home in 10 days' time - and in line, in theory, for Norwich's away trip to league leaders Reading on Tuesday, January 31.

In fairness, Mido is not alone in favouring both hosts Egypt and the Ivory Coast to do well. The Pharaohs have traditionally relished home advantage, while in Chelsea's Didier Drogba the Elephants' have a potential star of the tournament.

Given that Morocco appointed a new manager only on New Year's Eve after parting company with Frenchman Philippe Troussier after less than two months in charge, Saturday's Ivory Coast-Morocco clash is all pointing one way - to an early Safri return.


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“I think Egypt will play Ivory Coast in the final,” said Mido, speaking to the weekly Egyptian newspaper Al-Fajr.

“The Ivory Coast are the best prepared team on the continent; for us, playing in front of our fans will make a tremendous difference,” added the 22-year-old striker, scheduled to bump into the Canary playmaker next Tuesday night in the Cairo International Stadium. “In addition, we have a very strong team that can win any competition,” added Mido.

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Morocco themselves, now led by 52-year-old local hero Mohamed Fakir, completed their preparations with a 2-2 draw against Group B contenders Angola in Rabat on Tuesday night.

Worryingly for the Atlas Lions, they squandered a two-goal lead after first-half strikes from star man Marouane Chamakh and Youssef Hadji had put them firmly in command.

Equally, given the fact that Mr Drogba lies in wait on Saturday, Morocco's new boss has restored Mido's out-of-favour Spurs team-mate Noureddine Naybet to the international set-up alongside Charlton's Talal El Karkouri at the heart of the Atlas Lions' defence - yet neither have been playing regular first team football for their respective Premiership employers.

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