Egypt earned plaudits at home for putting on a brave display during their narrow 3-2 defeat by Brazil, but that will count for nothing if they fail to beat New Zealand at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium on Sunday.
The Pharaohs, trailing 3-0 at half-time, were on the verge of staging a remarkable comeback on Thursday after scoring two second-half goals against Brazil in their Group C opener at the London Olympic Games.
They were inspired by a superb display from second-half substitute Mohamed Salah, who should start Sunday’s game against New Zealand as Egypt aim to keep alive their chances of booking a last-eight berth.
New Zealand opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat by Belarus.
“The New Zealand game will be relatively easier than Brazil’s. We need to be concentrating fully to take advantage of any goal-scoring opportunities,” Egypt coach Hany Ramzy told Reuters Arabic.
“We have to forget about the defeat against Brazil. We should concentrate solely on claiming all three points before facing Belarus in our final group game on Wednesday,” the former Egypt defender added.
It remains to be seen whether Ramzy will stick to the same starting line-up he used against Brazil.
The presence of two strikers in Emad Meteb and Marwan Mohsen did Egypt no favours in their quest to score a first-half goal, with the sluggish duo unable to trouble Brazil’s backline.
Salah’s introduction injected much-needed pace into Egypt’s game, a factor the team can rely on when they play New Zealand.
“I watched New Zealand before the tournament, their style of play is similar to Australia’s. Their players are characterised by physical prowess and high fitness levels,” Ramzy added.
Ramzy also said he would address the defensive problems which haunted Egypt against Brazil, who exploited some slack marking to go to the locker room with a three-goal lead.
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