VIDEO: The Pharaohs Rule Group G After Beating the Warriors of Zimbabwe
Match: Egypt 2 (Abd-Rabo 64’, Abou-Treika 88’) – 1 Zimbabwe (Musona 75’)
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa – Group G
Venue: Borg El-Arab Stadium, Egypt
Egypt: Abdel-Wahed El Sayed; Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed Naguib, Wael Gomaa, Ahmed Shedid; Mohamed El-Nenny, Hosni Abd-Rabo; Mohamed Abou-Treika, Mohamed Ibrahim, Mohamed Salah; Gedo
Zimbabwe: Washington Arubi, Patson, Mushure, Silas Songani, Abbas Amidu,Khama, Knowledge Musona, Denver Mukamba, Augustine Mbara, Archford,Lincoln Zvasiya
10,000 fans in Borg El-Arab Stadium cheered on in anticipation in what was Bob Bradley’s first competitive game with fans on home soil. It was also one of the very few games with fans since the unfortunate Port Said incidents. It was also a crucial game for the manager, fans and players in their ongoing quest to achieve the World Cup qualification dream in Brazil 2014, a feat that was last witnessed in 1990. A win would take the Egyptians five points clear on top of Group G; any other result would weaken their chances of qualification.
Bradley opted to start the game in 4-5-1 formation, with a couple of surprises along the way. Zamalek’s goalkeeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed replaced El-Hadary in the team and Ekramy in the starting line-up. Gomaa partnered Naguib at CB while Elmohamady and Shedid took the RB and LB positions respectively. FC Basel’s El-Nenny and Hosni Abd-Rabo took their defensive midfielder duties while a trio of Mohamed Ibrahim, Mohamed Salah and Abou-Treika played behind the in-form Gedo. The experienced Fathi was left on the bench, while Brighton’s El-Abd didn’t feature.
The first half started cautiously, with both sets of players slowly but surely getting in the flow of the game. The first 30 minutes of the game exposed the defensive frailties of the Pharaohs, as the Warriors managed to beat the offside trap. Mukamba failed to score after slicing the Egyptian defense while he threatened El-Sayed with a couple of shots on goal.
Egypt’s most notable chance in the first half came from a Mohamed Salah cross. The speedy FC Basel winger crossed a superb ball but Abou-Treika was quite unlucky not to score after his header hit the crossbar.
Overall, a fast paced first half of football with lots of miss passes in the midfield and a shaky Egyptian performance. Zimbabwe excelling on the counter.
The second half kicked off with a substitution. Hull City’s Fathi replaced the sub-par Ibrahim and right away he was involved in Egypt’s first chance, putting in a superb cross for Abou-Treika who headed it just wide. The first goal of the game came in the 64th minute from a well placed free-kick on the edge of the box. Hosni Abd-Rabo placed the ball perfectly past the rather excellent Arubi to make the score one-nil. This goal spurred on the fans and the players, lifting them up but it was short lived as Knowledge Musona equalized for the visitors after a stinging shot past El-Sayed. Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper Arubi pulled a couple of saves to keep the Warriors in the game until the 88th minute. Abou-Treika lobbed a through pass to Mohamed Salah who was through on goal, but was tackled from behind. The referee had no hesitation to award a penalty kick to Egyptians and Mohamed Abou-Treika had no problems converting the PK coolly past Arubi, aiding Egypt to an edgy and scrappy 2-1 win.
Egypt is now five points clear off their nearest rivals in Group G with 9 points, and maintains their perfect unbeaten run in the group. If the Pharaohs finish on top, they then would qualify for the final two-legged round against one of the 10 group leaders for a place at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
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