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VIDEO: Egypt’s AFCON hopes dealt another blow as Tunisia victorious in Cairo
The Egyptian national team continued to struggle in 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying as Tunisia managed to claim an important victory against the Pharaohs on their own soil.
Tunisia’s Fakhreddine Ben Youssef scored the only goal of the match in the Air Defense Stadium to secure Tunisia’s second win in Group G of the AFCON qualifiers.
Tunisia XI (4-2-3-1): Aymen Mathlouthi; Rami Bedoui, Syam Ben Youssef, Bilel Mohsni, Ali Maaloul; Hocine Ragued, Ferjani Sassi; Wahbi Khazri, Youssef Msakni, Yassine Chikhaoui; Fakhreddine Ben Youssef.
The Egyptians had their hopes high despite the defeat against Senegal last week, as the Ministry of Interior had agreed to allow 15 thousand fans into the stadium to support the Pharaohs.
It was a strong start from the visitors, taking advantage of Egypt’s defensive weaknesses, exposed in the previous match in Dakar. The first wake up call to the Pharaohs was in the 5th minute, Yassine’s Chikhaoui’s pass reached Fakhreddine close to the 18-yard box, but the defense cleared away.
The Pharaohs’ first attempt on goal came through Al Ahly striker Amr Gamal, just a minute after Fakhreddine’s chance. The 23-year-old’s cross was slightly over-hit, and his striking partner, Zamalek’s Khaled Kamar, couldn’t reach it.
The game’s first goal came in the 14th minute through on-fire striker Fakhreddine. After a lovely counter-attack, Fakhreddine managed to get past Smouha centre-back Ahmed Said ‘Okka’ with some decent skills and buried the ball into the net with a great finish.
The 26th minute witnessed Egypt’s first real chance in the game. Amr Gamal flicked the ball towards Khaled Kamar from the halfway line to go through on goal; however, Kamar’s poor shot was deflected for a corner, missing an unbelievable chance for the Pharaohs to go level. Gamal almost scored with his head from the resulting corner, but Mathlouthi saved it.
Hosni Abd-Rabo came in for captain Hossam Ghaly in the 37th minute, who once again put in a poor shift. Hosni made an impact right away, as he headed Kamar’s cross just a inches away from the post.
Just a minute before half-time, Ali Maaloul missed a golden chance to double Tunisia’s lead as his stinging shot went over the bar with Ekramy scrambling.
The Pharaohs went into the dressing room knowing that they disappointed the fans with their average performance, only Zamalek left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy was applauded on his way in.
Second half went underway with Tunisia winning a corner just seconds in. Fakhreddine stormed Egypt’s defense and went on goal before he fell over in the 56th minute. The Tunisian players called for a penalty but Gambian referee Bakary Gassama waved it away.
Again, Fakhreddine came close to scoring his second of the game. He took on Nacional’s Aly Ghazal and launched a shot from the edge of the box. His shot hit the post with no one to follow through; the last real dangerous chance of the game.
The Pharaohs took control of the ball in the last twenty minutes and pressured Tunisia’s players to fall back. Although they looked dangerous, the Pharaohs didn’t managed to pose any real threat on goal.
The match ended with frowns all over the stadium and the fans calling for Shawky Gharib to be sacked. Egypt are now bottom of Group G with Botswana, while Tunisia and Senegal share the lead with two wins from their last two matches, as the Teranga Lions defeated the Zebras 2-0 earlier in the day.
After the match, Shawky Gharib once again took responsibility for the defeat, but added that his team of Egypt’s ‘best players’ are still in a rebuilding phase.
“I take responsibility, however these are the best players in Egypt currently.”
“I have confidence in the players, but as explained.. there are errors and problems in the team, we must realize that we are in a rebuilding phase.
“I changed the formation like the fans wanted, where did that lead us to?
“I’m being criticized cause I’m not affiliated with Al Ahly or Zamalek,” he concluded.