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2020 sports yearender: Egypt return to winning ways in Nations Cup qualifiers

Egypt bounce back from a frustrating start to their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign to move close to a place at the Cameroon finals

Ahram Online , Wednesday 30 Dec 2020
Egypt
Soccer Football - African Nations Cup 2021 Qualifier - Egypt v Kenya - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - November 14, 2019 Egypt's Amr Soleya in action with Kenya's Eric Johana Omondi REUTERS
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Egypt allayed fears stemming from a poor start to their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign in 2019, bouncing back to reassert their dominance over their group challengers.

The Pharaohs started the year in third place of Group G with only two points, having been held to surprise draws by Kenya at home and Comoros respectively in November 2019.

After the suspension to all football activities and the postponement of March's round of qualifying games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt had to wait until November 2020 to resume their campaign.

They claimed a narrow 1-0 win over Togo at Cairo stadium on 14 November, thanks to a header from defender Mahmoud "El Wensh" Hamdi, before defeating them again 3-1 in Lome.

Following the two wins, Egypt moved level with surprise package Comoros on top of Group G on eight points each.

The record seven-time African champions are five points clear of third-placed Kenya, while Togo are rooted to the bottom with a solitary point.

The two wins put Egypt within touching distance of place in the Cameroon finals and helped under-fire coach Hossam El-Badry gain a dose of confidence and silence critics after his slow start with the team.

El-Badry injected fresh blood in the double-header against Togo, introducing the likes of Ahly duo Mohamed Sherif and Mohamed 'Afsha' Magdi and Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed.

Sherif and Afsha were on target while Mostafa Mohamed produced a fine display in the two games.

Egypt improved their place in the FIFA ranking as they ended the year in the 49th place, up from the 51st which they occupied in January 2020.

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