Egypt’s chances of advancing to the second round at the London Olympic games were dealt a blow following a 1-1 draw with New Zealand at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium on Sunday.
The young Pharaohs were guilty of spurning a host of clear-chances, including an astonishing one in stoppage time when Ahly striker Emad Meteb, who is one of the over-age players, fired over the bar with the goal gaping.
Chris Wood gave New Zealand a surprise lead after 17 minutes when he made the most of a recurring defensive lapse but lively winger Mohamed Salah brought Egypt level five minutes before the break.
Egypt pressed hard in the second half but were let down by some poor finishing, much to the relief of a New Zealand side who were content to sit back and snatch a draw.
The draw left both sides at the bottom of Group C with one point, two behind leading duo Brazil and Belarus who meet later on Sunday at Old Trafford.
Egypt must beat Belarus in their last group game on Wednesday in Glasgow to stand any chance of booking a last-eight berth.
Egypt made a bright start, laying siege to New Zealand’s area from the very beginning, thanks to some swift exchange of passes between attacking trio Mohamed Abou-Treika, Emad Meteb and Salah.
Abou-Treika could have opened the scoring after 14 minutes when he was found unmarked by a Meteb pull-back but his mis-hit shot went wide.
Egypt were taken by surprise, however, when New Zealand scored against the run of play three minutes later following a dreadful defensive blunder. With no defenders in sight, Wood converted a flick-on from skipper Ryan Nelsen at the far post following a corner.
Salah levelled the score on 40 minutes when he escaped his marker to receive a superb Abou-Treika cross with a sliding shot at the far post that went in after striking the hands of New Zealand keeper Michael O'Keeffe.
New Zealand then defended in numbers to thwart a wave of Egyptian attacks after the break.
Egypt intensified their efforts in the last 10 minutes in a bid to notch a decisive goal, squandering three gilt-edged opportunities in the process.
Ahmed Fathi broke clear after exchanging passes with Meteb in the 83rd minute but he dithered on the ball to allow New Zealand’s defence to clear the danger. Five minutes later, Meteb skipped past a defender inside the area but his subsequent low shot was saved by O’Keeffe.
Meteb’s horrible miss in stoppage time marked a heartbreaking end for Egypt. Rounding the keeper after a neatly-worked counter attack, he blasted the ball over the crossbar.
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