VIDEO: Egypt thrashed by Ghana as World Cup dream fades in Kumasi
Egypt’s hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup were all but extinguished in Kumasi after losing 6-1 to the Black Stars.
A defensively frail Egypt were thrashed 6-1 by Ghana – one of the Pharaohs worst defeats in history, even topping a 5-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in 1999 – in the first leg of the World Cup play-off tie in Kumasi on Tuesday to all but end Egypt’s Brazil hopes.
Egypt XI (4-3-3): Sherif Ekramy (Ahmed El-Shennawy), Ahmed Fathi, Wael Gomaa, Mohamed Naguib, Ahmed Shedid (Shikabala); Hossam Ghaly, Mohamed El-Nenny, Hossam Ashour (Ahmed Elmohamady); Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Abou-Treika, Walid Soliman.
Ghana XI (4-2-3-1): Fatau Dauda, Samuel Inkoom, Jeremiah Akaminko, Rashid Sumaila, Daniel Opare, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari (Emmanuel Agyemang Badu), Andre Ayew (Christian Atsu), Asamoah Gyan (Mubarak Wakaso), Kwadwo Asamoah, Abdul Majeed Waris.
At the sold out Baba Yara Stadium, the Black Stars started off with immense pressure on Egypt’s back-line and almost scored through Gyan in the opening 10 seconds before his weak effort was saved by Ekramy.
As the Pharaohs struggled to get into the game, their defensive frailties were more and more exposed. Ekramy made a few crucial saves before Gyan opened the scoring with a powerful strike on the five-minute mark after easily out-pacing Mohamed Naguib.
A terrific pass by Andre Ayew sent Michael Essien through on goal after the Chelsea man dribbled past the recklessly lunging Naguib, and as Ghaly and Ekramy almost came to the rescue, 38-year-old captain Wael Gomaa could only deflect the ball into his own net to double the Black Stars’ lead on 22 minutes.
Egypt pulled one back to briefly instill hope in the Pharaohs when veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika converted a penalty kick four minutes from the interval after Salah was pushed from behind by South Africa-based Rashid Sumaila. The goal turned out to be Egypt’s only consolation.
Ghana quickly responded to restore their two-goal lead. Following a free-kick delivered towards Ekramy’s left post, Hull City’s Elmohamady (who replaced Hossam Ashour) was the only Pharaoh between three Ghanaians as Abdul Majeed Waris leaped the highest to head in the third on 44 minutes.
Bob Bradley changed the formation in the second half to a 3-5-2. He brought in Zamalek star Shikabala, who replaced left-back Shedid but also failed to impress, and Walid Soliman took on the left wing-back role. Fathi was moved centrally after the introduction of Elmohamady, who was playing as the right wing-back.
However, Ghana’s onslaught continued. Gyan was somehow left unmarked and he headed the 4th goal from close range on the 53rd minute – his 6th of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign to equal Salah and Abou-Treika’s tally as the continent’s joint top scorer.
Ekramy, who made a few magnificent saves in the first half, went off injured after the fourth goal to force Egypt into their final substitution, as he was replaced by 22-year-old Al-Masry keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy.
Another one of Egypt’s rare chances fell to centre-back Mohamed Naguib, who missed a header from close range in the first half following a brilliant Abou-Treika free-kick. Dauda was caught in no mans land but as Naguib turned to fire his curling effort went wide, missing the target from inside the area.
Waris earned a penalty kick for the Black Stars shortly after and it was converted by Sulley Muntari, 5-1.
Ghana substitute and recent Chelsea signing Christian Atsu put the icing on the cake to make it 6-1 – the Pharaohs worst defeat in a competitive match in over 80 years – with a superb strike from long-range.
Udinese midfielder Emmanuel Badu came close to making it seven but Shennawy punched away his unexpected blast from distance.
Egypt, who haven’t made it to the World Cup since 1990 in Italy, now need a 5-0 win when they host the Black Stars in the second leg on 19 November in Cairo in order to qualify to Brazil 2014, but coach Bob Bradley realizes this is almost an impossible task.
“The dream of going to the World Cup is what kept out team united for these two years. But today, we’ve seen that dream become nearly impossible,” Bradley said at the post-match press conference.
“Ghana is a proud footballing nation. Today the players and fans’ talent and emotion all came through for them and they can be proud.
“I say nearly impossible because the situation we’ve put ourselves in is a very difficult one. We know this and we feel this.”
The former USMNT coach apologized to the Egyptian people, taking responsibility for the heavy defeat.
“I apologize to the Egyptian people for Tuesday’s loss. I know that reaching the World Cup is the dream of all Egyptians, and I failed to realize that dream.”
Bradley also acknowledged his team made too many mistakes during Tuesday’s clash.
“I tried to mix young and experienced players, but we committed a lot of mistakes during the game. It was not our day.”
“I sought a recovery in the second half but the players’ mistakes were numerous,” he added.
In an e-mail to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, Bradley said: “At the moment I’m still the [Egypt] coach. If it’s up to me I will stand with the team for the 2nd leg.”
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