Egypt Secure Nations Cup Qualification After Win Over Swaziland

Published October 16th, 2018 - 06:26 GMT
Egypt's defender Ahmed Hegazi celebrates with his teammates after scoring the first goal against eSwatini (Photo: EFA official Facebook page)
Egypt's defender Ahmed Hegazi celebrates with his teammates after scoring the first goal against eSwatini (Photo: EFA official Facebook page)

Even when missing influential winger Mohamed Salah, Egypt eased past eSwatini 2-0 on Tuesday in Manzini to reach next year's Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

A first half goal by defender Ahmed Hegazi and another one after the break by striker Marwan Mohsen ensured the Pharaohs' superiority over their southern African rivals as the first leg ended with a 4-1 win in Cairo on Friday.

Despite missing key star Mohamed Salah due to injury, the men of Coach Javier Aguirre proved their worth away from home; guiding Egypt to become co-leaders of Group J alongside Tunisia with nine points for each.

Egypt andTunisia reached the next year's Africa Cup of Nations with the Carthage Eagles defeated Niger 2-1 later on Tuesday.

New faces

Trying to cover the absence of Liverpool's injured star Mohamed Salah, who picked a groin injury in Friday's match, Aguirre made a few changes to his side, handing Al-Ain winger Hussein El-Shahat his first starting role. Central midfielder Tarek Hamed replaced Aly Ghazal while West Bromwich Albion defender Ahmed Hegazi, who served a one-match ban, was restored in central defence instead of injured Amro Tarek.

After early threats from the hosts, the Pharaohs managed to get full control of the first half; reaching the net in different occasions.

Towering defender Ahmed Hegazi had the best celebration of his 50th appearance with the national team after rising above the defenders to meet Amr Warda's brilliant corner kick to give Egypt an early lead after 19 minutes.

The seven-time African Champions extended their domination after the goal against their rivals, who defended en masse. El-Shahat and Elmohamady came close to scoring on different occasions, but their attempts were blocked by the defenders.

After the break, Aguirre deployed striker Ahmed "Kouka" Hassan instead of winger Hussein El-Shahat in a bid to add more strength to his frontline.

Aguirre's attacking strategy quickly proved right when Kouka set up Mohsen in the box to skip past a last defender and slot the second in the 53rd minute.

Egypt could have grabbed a few more goals, but Trezeguet had two consecutive chances that he was denied by the post and a brilliant stretch by the keeper to keep the score unchanged.

Promising Wadi Degla midfielder Mohamed Mahmoud, 20, had been given the chance to launch his international career as he replaced Marwan Mohsen in the final quarter. He didn't have any major impact, but showed confidence and potential during those few minutes.

A low tempo from both teams dominated in the dying minutes, while Egypt's keeper El-Shennawi had a late heroic role; saving a real chance for eSwatini right before the final whistle.

By Ahmed Abd El Rasoul

© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

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