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VIDEO: Egypt held to a goalless draw in Georgia
Egypt XI (4-3-3): Ahmed El-Shennawy; Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Hegazy, Ahmed Said ‘Okka’, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy; Mohamed El-Nenny (Saleh Gomaa), Hosni Abd-Rabo (c), Ibrahim Salah; Shikabala (Sherif Ashraf), Ahmed Temsah (Amr Zaki), Mohamed Salah.
Egypt started without a recognized striker, but had Mohamed Salah in a false nine role – dropping deep into midfield – with Shikabala and Ahmed Temsah supporting from the wings.
The Pharaohs dominated the majority of the first half in tiki-taka fashion; but despite Salah, Shikabala and Temsah sharing a few chances, they struggled to really threaten the Georgian goal; and were mainly limited to shooting from range.
Georgia had a few chances of their own as a result of Egyptian defensive mistakes. Georgia pounced after Ahmed Hegazy slipped when trying to recover the ball after Mohamed Salah lost possession, but thankfully, they failed to capitalize after the Georgia striker could only strike air as the ball – just out of his reach – soared out of bounds. Lierse centre-back Ahmed Said ‘Okka’ later headed the ball down in his own box in an embarrassing attempt to clear, only reaching an on-rushing Georgian forward who skied his effort.
Egypt, who were without Gedo, Abou-Treika and other Al Ahly players ahead of Saturday’s African Champions League final against Tunisia’s Esperance, improved in the second half, especially following the introduction of midfielder Saleh Gomaa – the youngest member of the squad.
Amr Zaki was also brought on in the second half. He started off sloppy but did remarkably well to create space for himself before curling a shot from the edge of the box – forcing a fine save from Georgia keeper Giorgi Loria. Shortly after, Saleh Gomaa sent The Bulldozer one-on-one with the keeper, but Zaki, who has yet to score for Elazigspor since moving to Turkey, wasted the glorious opportunity striking straight at the keeper.
Recent ‘Hajj’ Hosni Abd-Rabo, who was captaining the Pharaohs, came closest to scoring after his volley from just inside the 18-yard box rattled the bar.
Sherif Ashraf, who began to tear up the Veikkausliiga in the final weeks of the Finnish season, came on for his National Team debut with approximately 15 minutes remaining, but struggled to make an impact.
Egypt are reportedly in talks to hold friendlies with Ivory Coast and Russia in February, as the Pharaohs won’t play any competitive games until next year’s World Cup qualifier in March against Zimbabwe, who’ve recent banned around 15 players and officials for their participation in match-fixing.
Watch extended highlights of the match below: