Lackluster Pharaohs labor to 2-2 draw with Jamaica
Egypt’s defensive woes continued in an international friendly against Jamaica on Wednesday, sharing the spoils but sparing no blushes in a 2-2 draw in London.
Maiden international goals ruled the day, with Egypt’s coming from FC Basel midfielder Mohamed El-Nenny and Entag El-Harby’s Basem Morsi.
Having to do without the services of its Ahly and Zamalek contingent, Egypt resorted back to playing with a sweeper for the first time in over two years, a role assumed on the day by veteran Ismaily midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabo.
El-Nenny put the seven-time African champions ahead with just four minutes gone through a powerful header off of a corner-kick.
The promising start never turned into the type of performance Egypt expected to put forth however, as the team struggled to deal with the Reggae Boyz’s pace.
Egypt also looked rusty in its reversion to a sweeper system, appearing considerably less fluid as a unit than it had just five days prior when it lost in a thrilling friendly against Chile.
Still, defender Hussein El-Sayed could have doubled the Pharaohs’ lead on 12 minutes. Chelsea forward Mohamed Salah put him square on goal for a one-time shot that missed the target from the top of the box.
Egypt finally paid for its sloppy complacency on 27 minutes when Simon Dawkins equalized for Jamaica, slickly converting a low cross from the right for his debut international goal.
Jamaica would claim a surprise lead just 10 minutes later when Joel Grant finished deftly from just inside the penalty area for his first-ever international score. His opportunity seemed to have arisen from thin air, as a mix-up in the Egyptian defense and a failure to clear the ball resulted in a gift for the hard-working Yeovil Town F.C. hitman.
Egypt began to awake from its slumber after going down a goal and missed a golden opportunity to equalize when Ahmed Elmohamady’s low cross beat the keeper, but raced into touch before oncoming attackers could reach it.
Ahmed Hamoudi could have leveled matters in the final minute of the half but his wayward shot from the top of the box sailed 15 yards wide.
Egypt continued its resurgent play in the second half, switching to a more standard four-man backline that saw Abd-Rabo come off for the attacking Ahmed Sherwida.
Salah nearly scored a few minutes into the half after weaving through the Jamaican defense, but he somehow pushed his shot just wide with only the keeper to beat.
The former Arab Contractors starlet was again in position to score eight minutes later, but his hapless finish sailed well wide with the keeper beaten and two Jamaican defenders desperately lunging in front of net.
Egypt’s increased fire and urgency finally paid off in the 72nd minute with Morsi – who earlier came on in place of fellow striker Khaled Kamar – converting Salah’s pin-point-accurate cross with a well-placed header.
However, Egypt’s focus and effort once again seemed to dwindle after scoring as it failed to produce anything of consequence the rest of the way.
The Pharaohs’ last threat on goal came in the final minutes via a free kick, but Elmohamady’s rushed shot sailed harmlessly over the net.
Egypt seemed either content with the result or altogether fatigued during three minutes of injury time, with two goals being all it could muster against a Jamaican side that – like Egypt – failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off next week.
It was the third and final match in a spate of debut friendlies for new manager Shawky Gharib. The team seemed to regress incrementally in each, finishing with a win, a loss, and a draw respectively.
The 55-year-old Gharib, who replaced Bob Bradley after Egypt failed to reach the World Cup, is preparing his side for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which begin in September.
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