World Cup-hungry Egypt will have a chance to avenge the 2013 humiliating defeat at the hands of Ghana after both sides were paired in a qualifying group for the 2018 Russia finals following Friday’s draw that took place in Cairo.
The powerhouses are expected to battle it out for the sole Group E ticket to the World Cup as they are unlikely to face stiff opposition from Congo and Uganda, who were also drawn in the same group.
Egypt are well aware that they need to get over a painful memory if they are to break their World Cup duck and reach the football’s most prestigious showpiece for the first time since 1990.
Little less than three years ago, Ghana inflicted a 6-1 defeat on Egypt in Kumasi in the first-leg of a qualifying playoff after putting on a devastating attacking display that shattered the dreams of Egyptians.
Bridging the deficit in the second leg was an almost impossible task and Egypt could only claim a 2-1 win, bowing out 7-3 on aggregate.
The stunning defeat marked the end of an otherwise smooth qualifying campaign that saw Egypt finish on top of a group that also included Guinea, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It also sealed the fate of American coach Bob Bradley.
The Pharaohs are hoping veteran boss Hector Cuper can turn around their fortunes and the Argentinean, despite being criticised by some pundits for what they deem his overly-cautious strategy, seems to be on the right path after helping the team qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations finals for the first time since 2010.
Sigh of relief
Despite being drawn with the formidable Black Stars, Egypt can still breathe a sigh of relief after a special FIFA ranking - issued earlier this month - dropped them in pot 2.
They could have easily had to deal with two big guns rather than one, with Nigeria, who were also in pot 2, ending up with Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia in Group B.
Similarly, Mali were also handed a tough task after being paired with Ivory Coast, Morocco and Gabon in Group C.
Egypt lost only once in 20 meetings with Uganda. Their last match was a 2013 friendly in Egypt that saw the hosts claim a 3-0 win.
The seven-time African champions also boast a superior record over Congo, having beaten them four times in five matches, losing once. Egypt crushed Congo 3-0 in their last game - a friendly in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
Egypt have made only two World Cup appearances, both in Italy in 1934 and 1990.
The complete draw:
Group A: Tunisia, Libya, DR Congo, Guinea
Group B: Zambia, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria
Group C: Gabon, Mali, Ivory Coast, Morocco
Group D: Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde
Group E: Ghana, Congo, Egypt, Uganda
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