So far so good for most of the Arab national teams playing in the African Football Nations Cup, which include teams from Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Egypt, the African champion, was the first to qualify for the quarterfinals. During the weekend, Egypt registered its second win against Senegal 1-0, with veteran striker Hussam Hassan scoring the decisive goal at the 40th minute.
The goal came even as momentum was behind Senegal, when, during an Egyptian counterattack, Muhammad Amarah provided the assist to Hassan who beat the Senegalese goalkeeper, Diyalo. This was Hassan's second goal of the tournament. Senegal controlled the last 45 minutes of the games, but Egyptian goalie, Nader a-Sayyid, made terrific saves to keep the Egyptians on top.
Yesterday, a North African head-to-head between Morocco and Tunisia finished scoreless. The game was a must-win for Tunisia if it hoped to advance to the next state. Although, Tunisia failed, Morocco is likely to reach the quarterfinals. Both teams failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
The third North African team, Algeria, which is trying to restore its glory days of the 1980s, won its first match of the tournament last night 3-1 against struggling Gabon. Algeria controlled the first half scoring 2 goals, but fell complacent in the second half, when Gabon scored its only goal. Algeria answered back during the game's last attack. This win virtually secures a place for Algeria in the next stage, but they will have to face a strong challenge this week when they play the favorite, South Africa.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)