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Thursday, 12 December 2019

Egypt held at home by Kenya in Nations Cup qualifiers' opener

Ahram Online , Thursday 14 Nov 2019
Egypt
Egypt's Amr Soleya in action with Kenya's Victor Wanyama (Reuters)
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Egypt started their 2021 qualifying campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw by Kenya at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Thursday.

Mahmoud 'Kahraba' Abdel-Moneam opened the scoring for the Pharaohs, three minutes before the break, while Kenya's Michael Olunga leveled the score for the visitors seven minutes after the hour-mark.

The Pharaohs seemed affected by the absence of Liverpool's classy winger Mohamed Salah, who missed the game due to injury, as they failed to impress against Kenya (108th in FIFA ranking), a team that they outrank by almost 60 places in the FIFA October ranking.

Egypt's newly appointed coach Hossam El-Badri introduced Hussein El-Shahat on the right flank, but the Ahly winger failed to fill the void left by Salah's absence.

The Pharaohs' chances were few in the first half. Kahraba, who got a surprising call-up by coach El-Badri despite his lack of playing time with his Portuguese side CD Aves, had a chance in the 19th minute, but his close-range shot went easily into the hands of the Kenya keeper.

The visitors responded quickly as Ayub Timbe and Olunga threatened to open the scoring on two occasions in the 22nd and 23rd minutes respectively, but Egypt's keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi rescued his side on both occasions.

Three minutes before the breakKahraba intercepted a back pass from defender Erick Ouma to get past the onrushing keeper and to score easily in an empty net.

The Pharaohs started the second half with a slow rhythm, failing to overcome Kenya's high pressure.

El-Badri introduced Ahmed 'Zizo' Hassan at the expense of Hussein El-Shahat in the 56th, but the Zamalek winger failed to make his presence felt.

Besiktas midfielder Mohamed Elneny was El-Badri's second substitute in the 65th minute when he replaced attacking midfielder Mohamed Magdi as the Pharaohs coach tried to control the midfield.

Two minutes later, Kenya forward Michael Olunga intercepted a poor pass from Elneny to level the score.

The Pharaohs pulled on the attack to regain the advantage, but Trezeguet's close range shot was blocked only to fall into the path of Elneny's, whose shot was deflected into the corner. The Egyptian side struggled during the last 10 minutes of the game against a defensive-minded side who were content to share honours with the hosts.

Egypt are now second in group G with a single point, two points behind leaders Comoros, who claimed a 1-0 away win over Togo earlier in the day.

Egypt will face Comoros on Monday. 

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

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