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VIDEO Recap: Egypt downed in revolutionary derby with Tunisia
Egypt XI: Essam El-Hadary (c); Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Said ‘Okka’ (El-Abd), Ahmed Hegazy, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (‘Milo‘); Hosni Abd-Rabo (Saleh Gomaa), Ibrahim Salah (El-Nenny); Mohamed Abou-Treika, Mohamed Salah, Shikabala (Mohamed Ibrahim); Ahmed Hassan Mekki (Amr Zaki).
Egypt lost their second game at their UAE training camp on Tuesday to Tunisia, after crushing Congo 3-0 last Friday.
Tunisia, who entered the game only two days after qualifying for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, fielded six debutants.
Egypt were almost at full strength with the return of Shikabala, only missing the five Ahly players who returned home ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Sunshine Stars.
Egypt coach Bob Bradley started with an immensely attacking line-up having Abou-Treika, Mohamed Salah and Shikabala all behind striker Ahmed Hassan Mekki.
On-loan Hull City full-back Ahmed Elmohamady wasted Egypt’s best chance in the first-half after skying his shot following a smart backheel from Shikabala.
Despite having decent spells of possession and a few decent chances in the first half, Egypt were slow, lacked creativity and were punished on the counter after 19 minutes following Zouheir Dhaouadi’s chip over Hadary. Ahmed Hegazy initially did well to catch up to Dhaouadi, after leaving him onside following a superb chipped through-ball, but the Evian midfielder managed to score with a well-taken chip from a tight angle.
First half highlights:
In the second half, Bradley altered his formation bringing on Amr Zaki, shifting Mohamed Salah to the right wing, Shikabala to the left and giving Abou-Treika a more central role. There were also defensive changes made at half-time including the introduction of Brighton’s Adam El-Abd and Olympic star Islam Ramadan.
Mohamed Abou-Treika’ came close to equalizing in the 52nd minute but his free header went just over the bar after arriving late to meet an Elmohamdy cross.
Mohamed Salah missed the Pharaohs’ best chance of the match four minutes later. The FC Basel winger timed his run perfectly to latch onto a sublime ball from Abou-Treika, but his first-time shot went just wide of the post.
Striker Amr Zaki made his first international appearance since October 2010 after coming on at half-time; his first game under Bradley. Zaki, who plays for Turkish Super League side Elazığspor, saw his weak attempt from a narrow angle hit the post after being deflected off Aymen Abedennour. The Bulldozer almost capitalized after being played in by Abou-Treika, but his shot went agonizingly wide as he looked desperate for his first Egypt goal in three years.
Watch Amr Zaki come close on two occasions:
Tunisia also had a clear-cut chance denied by El-Hadary, but the Carthage Eagles managed to hold onto their lead to claim the friendly win.
The result meant that Tunisia maintained their superiority over their North African rivals winning 5 (also drew twice) of the 9 total fixtures between the two, with the last victory for the Pharaohs back in 2002.
Egypt coach Bob Bradley said his side played well in the second half, but admitted that they lacked the cutting edge in final third.
“For us it was a good match today. I think we need more competitive matches like this one.” Bradley told Dubai Sports after the loss.
The Pharaohs are currently holding successive training camps abroad to compensate for the lack of domestic action, thanks to the suspension of all Egyptian football activity since February’s Port Said stadium disaster.
“It’s excellent for us working here; we have good training. It’s important this time because the players aren’t playing, so we rely on the training camps,” he added.
Egypt, who failed to reach next year’s African Cup of Nations, are working to schedule more friendlies in November through January as they will not play any competitive game until March of next year when they will host Zimbabwe in a World Cup qualifier.
Watch Bradley’s interview following the defeat: