Nations Cup qualification matters most, says Egypt coach El-Badry

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Mar 2021

a draw was enough to send Egypt to next year's Cameroon finals with one match to spare in Group G despite another uninspiring display

Egypt v Kenya
Magdi Afsha (R) scored Egypt's opener against Kenya (Photo: the Egyptian Football Association's Facebook page)

Egypt coach Hossam El-Badry said qualifying for the African Nations Cup was what mattered most after the Pharaohs put in a lethargic display in a 1-1 draw away to Kenya in their penultimate qualifier on Thursday.

Ahly playmaker Magdi Afsha gave Egypt a second-minute lead but the visitors could not build on their advantage, instead allowing Kenya to dominate proceedings and secure a share of spoils via a 65th-minute goal from Abdallah Hassan.

However, a draw was enough to send Egypt to next year's Cameroon finals with one match to spare in Group G as they gained an unassailable five-point lead over third-placed Kenya. Comoros also went through after drawing with Togo earlier in the day.

But some fans were still not content with another uninspiring performance from Egypt, who beat Togo home and away for their only victories in five qualifying matches.

"Fulfilling our target of reaching the Cameroon finals was the most important thing, which we did," former Ahly boss El-Badry, who took over after Javier Aguirre was sacked following Egypt's dismal Nations Cup campaign on home soil in 2019, said after the game.

"We have some work to do to make further progress and inject fresh blood into the team," he added, admitting that Egypt were not at their best against Kenya.

El-Badry also said Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny did not feature in the game because he "only took part in one training session before we flew to Nairobi."

"There is a big chance that he will play in our next game," El-Badry said, referring to Egypt's final qualifier against Comoros, a dead-rubber that will take place in Cairo on Monday.

Egypt, the Nations Cup's record winners with seven titles under their belt, will make a record-extending 25th appearance at the biennial tournament.

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