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VIDEO: Hegazy returns with goal as Egypt held by Botswana in warm-up
Egypt starting XI: Sherif Ekramy; Ahmed Fathi, Wael Gomaa, Ahmed Hegazy, Ahmed Shedid; Ibrahim Salah, Hossam Ashour; Ahmed Elmohamady, Abdullah El-Said, Walid Soliman; Ahmed Hassan Mekki.
Egypt didn’t waste time going forward, winning two corners in the opening minutes following some great link-up play by Ahmed Fathi and Elmohamady, who were both on loan at Hull City this season.
It only took five minutes for the opening goal, but it was Botswana who scored. Abdullah El-Said’s sloppy pass was intercepted near the opposition’s box before The Zebras broke on the counter. Egypt seemed safe when Wael Gomaa gained possession, but his horrible back-pass was intercepted before reaching goalkeeper Ekramy by Jerome Ramatlhakwane, who accepted the gift from close range.
Egypt dominated possession for the majority of the first-half, and the equalizer eventually came after 38 minutes, from an unlikely source. Fiorentina centre-back Ahmed Hegazy, who has only just been recalled after rupturing his knee ligament last December, scored a superb header off a trademark Elmohamady cross to level the score for the Pharaohs.
Ahmed Temsah, Amr El-Sulaya and Zamalek’s Ahmed Eid, Ahmed Gaafar and Mahmoud Fathallah all entered the pitch for the second-half replacing Elmohamady, Ibrahim Salah, Walid Soliman, Ahmed Hassan Mekki and Wael Gomaa respectively.
Zamalek’s Ahmed Eid made instant impact to Egypt’s attack, smashing the post from 30 yards, minutes after replacing Soliman. The Pharaohs looked much more lively in the second-half as the substitutes looked to stake their claims for a spot in the squad for Egypt’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Abdullah El-Said made way for Smouha’s Ahmed Hamoudi with Egypt’s final substitution, following a disappointing performance by the Ahly playmaker. Hamoudi also provided a decent spark as the Pharaohs pressed forward searching for the winner, but he, along with the majority of the team, lacked the crucial touch in front of goal today.
The Zebras also applied their share of pressure in the second-half, forcing some fine saves from Sherif Ekramy.
In stoppage time, no penalty was awarded after a clear handball in the box by a Botswana defender as the match ended 1-1.
Bob Bradley told a brief news conference following the game: “We didn’t perform well tonight. We relatively improved after the break but the performance was not up to our standards.”
“Hegazy’s return was one of the main advantages tonight. Not only because he scored the equalizer, but also for producing a fine performance throughout the 90 minutes,” the American boss added.
Ayman Hefny is said to have left camp prior to the game after sustaining an injury. Hefny, along with Walid Soliman, Hazem Emam, Ali Ghazal and Tarek Hamed have been left out of the Egypt squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers as the Pharaohs travel to Zimbabwe tomorrow where they will meet The Warriors at the National Sports Stadium on June 9 before visiting Mozambique the following weekend.