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Dreadful defeat for defenseless Egypt in Dakar
Taking full advantage of Egypt’s chronically toothless defense, Senegal got off to a flying start in 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying with a 2-0 win over the Pharaohs in Dakar on Friday.
A sloppy, nervy start by both teams was a harbinger of things to come for Egypt, who produced no more than a single attacking chance in the first half.
The lack of chemistry between defenders, as well as between defenders and goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy was evident early. Routine stops for any international goalkeeper turned into panicky clearances and corner kicks.
Egypt finally paid for its lack of defensive cohesion on 17 minutes when Mame Diouf drew first blood for the Teranga Lions after beating Ekramy one-on-one. Diouf was sent free on a through-ball that seemed to inexplicably catch defenders Ahmed Okka and Shawky Said off guard.
The Pharaohs were let off the hook just 30 seconds prior to the goal when Ahmed Fathi attempted to win a foul instead of clearing a dangerous ball in defense.
Senegal doubled its lead on the stroke of halftime. It was a similar setup to Diouf’s goal, this time with Sadio Mané breaking free on a combination of an acute through-ball and poor marking from Okka and Said. Mané’s job was easy from there, beating Ekramy on another one-on-one.
Egypt finally had its first half-chance on goal since the ninth minute when Khaled Kamar was sent free on a 51st minute through ball. He failed to control the pass and make an attempt on net however, instead sending a wayward cross out for a goal kick.
The seven-time African champions had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit in half just two minutes later, with inspired substitute Amr Gamal finding Chelsea starlet Mohamed Salah on a two-on-two with the Senegalese defense. However, by the time Salah decided what to do with the ball, Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul was there to put the fire out.
Moments later, it was Salah again on the end of a missed chance, sending his chipped volley high of the target with Coundoul closing in.
Salah – perhaps feeling the ill-effects of his lack of playing time at Chelsea – shot high once again on 59 minutes, this time from a free kick.
With time running out and chances squandered, the Egyptians appeared increasingly defeated and deflated.
They would dodge a bullet on 64 minutes, with Okka again the subject of a defensive blunder. This time he was cautioned for tripping-up Mané just as he was breaking free for a would-be one-on-one with Ekramy. It appeared to be an offense that would otherwise warrant an ejection.
The Pharaohs final chance came nine minutes from fulltime when Gamal appeared to be tugged from behind as he charged toward goal. Malian referee Koman Coulibaly ignored Egypt’s appeals for a penalty.
It was just the third-ever competitive win over Egypt for Senegal, and their first since 2002.
The Teranga Lions did nothing complicated tactically, simply beating Egypt’s hapless defense with every individual match-up.
As a whole, Egypt appeared to lack direction or determination, though their second half display was slightly improved. Gamal, along with Zamalek’s Hazem Emam (both substitutes) and C.D. Nacional’s Aly Ghazal appeared to be the only Egyptians playing with focus and desire.
Egypt will re-take to the pitch in just five days to resume their qualifying campaign against Tunisia. The Pharaohs received a boost earlier in the day when it was announced that fans would be allowed into the match at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo. Tunisia begins its quest to qualify at home against Botswana on Saturday.
Sherif Ekramy – 6.5 – Generally did his job and can’t be blamed for either goal, but couldn’t quite come up with any spectacular saves when the team needed them.
Ahmed Okka – 3 – Can be blamed for both goals in tandem with Shawky Said.
Shawky El-Said – 3.5 – The other half of Egypt’s blunder boys on the night.
Aly Ghazal – 6 – He was Egypt’s best defender on the night, but that’s more a criticism of Okka and Said than an endorsement of Ghazal.
Ahmed Fathi – 4.5 – His set pieces left plenty to be desired and his attempt to win a foul instead of clearing a dangerous ball in defense almost led to a goal for Senegal.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4.5 – A sub-par performance both in defense and going forward. Replacement Hazem Emam was an immediate and noticeable improvement.
Mohamed El-Nenny – 7 – The only capable contributor in midfield on the night. The FC Basel star did his job, but was otherwise handicapped by those around him.
Hossam Ghaly – 3 – It was one of the worst performances of his international career, and rivaled his display in last year’s World Cup qualifier against Ghana in Kumasi. Missed and intercepted passes and wayward tackle attempts defined his evening.
Ahmed Hamoudi – 4 – Virtually invisible throughout, thanks in part to a lack of help both behind and next to him.
Khaled Kamar – 4 – Won a foul in a dangerous position, but that’s about the only positive contribution he made. He could have done considerably better with a second-half through-ball but instead sent it out of bounds on a cross attempt.
Mohamed Salah – 3.5 – The effort was there, but the production wasn’t. He missed Egypt’s two best chances of the match and sent a free-kick shot attempt skyward.
Amr Gamal – 7.5 – Gamal’s second-half injection was a shot of energy for the Egypt attack. He made the correct pass/shot decisions going forward and perhaps should have been awarded a penalty late.
Hazem Emam – 7 – Emam was an immediate improvement over Elmohamady, weaving through traffic and creating space for himself down the wing.
Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka‘ – N/R – Probably unfair to rate his 10 minutes of play, but he headed the ball well high of the target on a corner kick, his only opportunity.