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Football: Egypt face do-or-die match at London Games

Egypt have no option but to beat Belarus on Wednesday to stand a chance of qualifying for the football quarter finals at the London Games

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 1 Aug 2012
Egypt
Egypt drew 1-1 with New Zealand in their second Group C match at the London Games (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt will need to end a string of bad luck to book a last-eight berth at the London Olympic Games, coach Hany Ramzy said ahead of side’s decisive game against Belarus in Glasgow on Wednesday.

The Pharaohs paid for their wastefulness after failing to down New Zealand in a game they completely dominated on Sunday.

With the score tied, 1-1, Egypt poured forward in a bid to notch up a decisive goal which would have put them on the verge of a place in the quarterfinals. However, they squandered a host of goal-scoring opportunities that included a stunning miss from Emad Meteb in stoppage time.

The Ahly striker, who is one of the three over-age players in Egypt’s squad, rounded New Zealand’s keeper before firing over the crossbar with the goal gaping, prompting a barrage of sarcastic remarks from Egyptians on social networking sites.

However, Egypt were boosted by Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Belarus as the gold medal favourites secured a place among the last eight with one game to spare in Group C.

Egypt, who have a solitary point, must beat Belarus, who have three, and hope New Zealand (one point) do not beat already-qualified Brazil.

“We played a great game against New Zealand, but luck was not our side. We wasted many easy chances which would have put us in a much better position had we converted them,” former Egypt defender Ramzy told a news conference.

“We still have a strong chance to qualify for the knockout phase. I’m sure we can go through, we just didn’t have luck during our past two games.”

Ramzy was relieved after resolving a dispute with Egyptian giants Ahly, who accused the former ENPPI boss of going back on his promise to release the over-age players following the team’s game against New Zealand.

Veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika and Meteb were due to return to Cairo on Monday as Ahly prepare for an African Champions League clash against Ghana’s Chelsea on 4 August. Right-back Ahmed Fathi would stay with Egypt anyway, given that he is suspended for the Red Devils’ continental game.

Under pressure from Ramzy, Ahly eventually agreed to let the duo take part in the crunch game against Belarus but warned that, in the future, they would deal with the national team “according to the rules of FIFA”.

Abou-Treika showed flashes of brilliance in the previous two games but promising forward Mohamed Salah stole the limelight with some dazzling performances which yielded two goals in as many games.

He is shouldering the team’s hopes of winning a football medal in their first Olympic appearance in 20 years.

 

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