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VIDEO: Stale Egypt lose to Chad in World Cup qualifying opener
Egypt began their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in disappointment as the Pharaohs fell 1-0 in N’Djamena in the first of two legs, thanks to a lone goal from Chad captain Ezechiel Ndouassel.
Héctor Cúper fielded a 4-4-2 with Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’ and Bassem Morsi starting up front, but his side were without a number of key players. Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Abdel-Shafy missed out due to injuries picked up shortly before the international break, while Rami Rabia and Hazem Emam failed fitness tests.
Egypt XI vs Chad: Ahmed El-Shennawy; Omar Gaber, Ahmed Hegazy (c), Ahmed Dweidar, Sabry Rahil; Momen Zakaria, Tarek Hamed, Mohamed El-Nenny, Mahmoud Kahraba; Bassem Morsi, Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’.
The Pharaohs kicked-off the match and dominated possession early on, but failed to test the Chad goalkeeper or create any significant chances.
Egypt’s first real chance fell to Koka after 16 minutes, following some incredible footwork by Zamalek’s Mahmoud Kahraba. Kahraba eased past two defenders down the left before laying it off to Koka in the box, but the Braga striker, who scored a brace on his previous cap, blasted high over the bar.
It was a physical encounter with plenty of fouls and Egypt seemed to be limited to shots from distance. Morsi had scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Chad just two months ago, but the Zamalek striker looked a shadow of himself as his only attempts were far off target.
Les Sao started looking like a more confident side towards the end of the first half, but the score was goalless as the whistle was blown for half-time.
The second half kicked off with the hosts evidently searching for the first leg advantage.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) November 14, 2015
Kahraba looked to be the spark for Egypt’s chances, but after the 21-year-old crept into the opposition box the Chad goalkeeper intercepted his pass for Morsi. The match was then stopped for several minutes as the goalkeeper went down injured, and was not able to continue.
Both sides continued to struggle to create opportunities to score, but Cúper seemed unfazed as Egypt’s first substitution didn’t come until the 70th minute, with centre-back Saad Samir replacing Dweidar.
Three minutes after the defensive substitution, Egypt conceded. A cross came in from the right and Chad captain Ezechiel Ndouassel was left unmarked in the box for a free header which he guided past Shennawy.
Cúper immediately responded with another substitution, this time Tarek Hamed was replaced by Hossam Ghaly in midfield. The Pharaohs still looked unlikely to find an equaliser however, and the final change was made in the 82nd minute with Greece-based Amr Warda replacing Momen Zakaria.
Chad had almost doubled the score in the 88th minute when Egypt’s players were left ball-watching as El-Shennawy’s save resulted in a corner. Two minutes later, Egypt had its best chance of the match as the ball flashed across goal, but the final touch was missing.
In the dying moments of the game, Egypt had a free-kick and it was well-delivered but Koka’s header on goal was handled by Chad’s substitute keeper; subsequently, the final whistle was blown.
This defeat was Egypt’s first-ever loss to Chad in history, and Cúper’s first as Egypt manager. The Pharaohs will need to overturn the 1-0 scoreline in order to progress to the third round of African World Cup qualifying.
The two sides will meet again in the second leg next Tuesday, November 17th at the Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria, where over 20,000 fans are expected to be in attendance.