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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Egypt's perfect run under Aguirre ends after 1-1 draw at Niger

Hatem Maher , Saturday 23 Mar 2019
Egypt coach Javier Aguirre
File Photo: Egypt coach Javier Aguirre before the match (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's perfect run under Javier Aguirre came to an end when a weakened side conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Niger in a dead-rubber African Nations Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Substitute Mahmoud Trezeguet scored with his first touch after coming on early in the second half but lively forward Amadou Moutari brought Niger level with a fine strike eight minutes from time.

Already qualified virtue of their point tally before being granted the hosting rights of the 21 June-19 July Nations Cup, Egypt finished second in Group J with 13 points, three behind leaders Tunisia.

The draw against Niger marked the first time Egypt have failed to win since Aguirre took over following an embarrassing World Cup campaign under his predecessor, Hector Cuper.

The Mexican boss oversaw four straight wins in the Nations Cup qualifiers before the stumble in N'Djamena.

The Pharaohs next host Nigeria on Tuesday in their first warm-up for the Nations Cup, which they are seeking to win for the first time since lifting the last of their record seven trophies in 2010.

Aguirre gave debuts to Pyramids duo Ahmed Mansour and Nabil Emad and Ittihad's on-loan youngster Ammar Hamdi, as well as introducing other fresh faces such as Ahly right-back Mohamed Hani and midfielder Amr El-Sulaya.

The likes of Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and West Bromwich defender Ahmed Hegazy were rested.

Drab half

Niger had the upper hand in a drab first half, with Mohamed Wonkoye causing constant menace to Egypt's rearguard down the left flank.

The only real chance in the first half was orchestrated by Wonkoye in the 32nd minute, with the Horoya AC man bamboozling Hani before whipping in an inviting cross to Issa Sidibe, whose close-range volley struck the upright.

Egypt had a solitary half-chance when a low shot from Hamdi was saved by the keeper but he set up the opener in the 47th minute.

Intercepting a poor pass from a defender, Hamdi threaded a pass behind the backline to Trezeguet, who broke clear and beat the keeper at his near post with a low shot.

Niger then took control and wasted a golden chance to restore parity when they were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute, only for keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi to dive the right way and smother the spot-kick.

But they made up for the miss when, from a corner, Moutari collected a pass in the area before blasting a shot into the roof of the night from a tight angle, with El-Shennawi's slow reaction partially to blame for the goal.

The hosts also squandered a couple of chances in stoppage time as they missed out on a famous win on their mighty opponents.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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