Egypt 1-1 New Zealand – Old Trafford a Theatre of Nightmares for the Pharaohs
Egypt 1-1 New Zealand
Match: New Zealand 1 (17’ Chris Wood) – 1 Egypt (40’ Mohamed Salah)
Competition: London 2012 Olympics – Group C
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)
Despite Egypt heading to this match with confidence after their remarkable second half performance against tournament favorites Brazil, Egypt had to settle for a 1-1 draw in a poor-quality contest with New Zealand. The Pharaohs dominated in their second Olympic Games Group C match but wasted golden opportunities at Old Trafford. Their finishing at Theatre of Dreams was very much a nightmare.
Hany Ramzy restorted back to their accustomed formation of 4-2-3-1 and made one change to the Egypt side that started against Brazil, with Mohamed Salah coming in for Marwan Mohsen.
Michael O’Keefe; Ian Hogg, Tommy Smith, Ryan Nelsen, Adam Thomas – Michael McGlinchey, Costa Barbarouses, Tim Payne; Shane Smeltz, Marco Rojas, Chris Wood.
For the first quarter of an hour, the Pharaohs held onto possession while fullbacks Ahmed Fathi and Islam Ramadan delivered some decent crosses into the box – which were easily dealt with by New Zealand’s sturdy defense. Egypt captain Mohamed Aboutrika also had a great opportunity for Egypt after finding space on the edge of the New Zealand box but his shot was woefully scuffed wide. All of a sudden, BANG – goal for New Zealand following their first corner of the game. Ryan Nelsen’s header tapped-in by Chris Wood (a former teammate of Egyptian international Adam El-Abd at Brighton) who was left unmarked at the near post following a corner, 1-0. A simple goal kudos to abysmal defending. Egypt came pouring forward after with the thought of elimination sparking their onslaught. Abou Treika, Meteb and Salah all squandered chances with the latter and Ahmed Fathi applying immense pressure down the right-wing. Saleh Gomaa came the closest to scoring after being released by Treika, but was denied by a fine stop from the Oly-Whites’ keeper Michael O’Keefe. Finally, just before halftime, Mohamed Salah finds the equalizer. Abou Treika’s superb cross delivered on a plate to the FC Basel forward who scores his 2nd goal of the tournament from close range, 1-1. Egypt’s onslaught continued with Emad Meteb coming close to giving Egypt their first lead of the Olympics with a header, following a superb delivery by left-back Islam ‘Milo’ Ramadan. Egypt ended the half with a total of 13 shots, compared to New Zealand’s 1 – the goal.
Egypt should have scored five in this half, but a combination of shambolic finishing and outstanding goalkeeping kept the Africans frustrated throughout. Mohamed El Nenny was quickly replaced by Ahmed Magdy after his continuously poor attempts from distance, adding to the frustration of Hany Ramzy. James Musa was given the task of marking Mohamed Salah, and did an exceptional job nullifying Egypt’s main threat throughout the 2nd half. Ahmed Fathi missed a huge opportunity after being played through on goal by Emad Meteb, before he was sluggishly dispossessed. Meteb himself had countless opportunities. He superbly shimmied two defenders towards the final 10 minutes, only for his low effort struck directly into the keeper’s hands. Egypt U23 top scorer Marwan Mohsen was brought on in the dying minutes of the game – Ramzy’s late attempt to find a goal – along with Ahly’s Shehab Ahmed; replacing captain Mohamed Abou Treika and Saleh Gomaa. Just seconds before the final whistle, Egypt finally looked to have found the winner, until Meteb’s miss of the Olympics. Emad rounded the keeper, then embarrassingly skied the ball with the net at his mercy. Egypt finished the game with 28 shots to New Zealand’s 4.
Conceding early: Always a major issue with the Egyptian national team. Egypt were unorganized at the back during the early stages of this game as they were in the first half against Brazil. Dreadful defending from set-pieces along with this nervy-feeling at the back resulted in a goal that 9/10 sides wouldn’t have conceded.
Finishing: Obviously the main reason for Egypt’s failure to secure the three points. Egypt had 28 shots and 7.7% goal to shots on target conversion rate. Emad Meteb, Ahmed Fathi and even Mohamed Abou Treika – the three overage players – were especially to blame for Egypt’s numerous wasted efforts. Questions are being raised as to whether former Egypt defender Hany Ramzy made the wrong choices in his selection of players, especially the attackers. Zamalek’s Mohamed Ibrahim – who scored a hattrick with Egypt at the 2011 FIFA U20 World Cup – was left home and was the standout player in the Cairo derby a few weeks back while the U23 top scorer Marwan Mohsen hasn’t been given an opportunity in his preferred loan striker role.
“What about Meteb’s chance?” Hany Ramzy said after being asked about the Ahly striker’s horrendous miss. “I won’t criticize a single player for a miss when all the team had missed tens of chances.” Emad Meteb told Filgoal.com his own reason for failing to score, “I couldn’t hit the target due to a light shove from a New Zealand defender that made me hit the ball in a tilting position.” “I know that’s not an excuse but scoring needs luck; sometimes we reach the opponent’s goal just once and make the most of that chance and vice versa.”
King Fut’s Man of the Match:
Without a doubt, the man who kept New Zealand from losing was goalkeeper Michael O’Keefe. He made a superb save to deny Saleh Gomaa from inside the 10-yard-box in the first half, as well as save countless striker from Emad Meteb including a strong close-range header. Although, Michael was given many favors from Egypt’s poor finishing.
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