Preview: Egypt eyeing Arab Cup consolation against Qatar

Ahram Online , Friday 17 Dec 2021

Egypt will be looking to console their fans when they meet hosts Qatar in the FIFA Arab Cup third-place playoff on Saturday, having lost to Tunisia in the semis in a bitter way.

Ahmed Hegazi
Egypt defender Ahmed Hegazi greets the fans during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 semi-final football match between Tunisia and Egypt at the 974 stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha on December 15, 2021 (AFP)

A last-gasp own goal from midfielder Amr El-Sulaya condemned Egypt to a painful exit against Tunisia, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of the team's demanding fans.

The supporters were particularly angry at Egypt's failure to carve out openings following a dour display as they only created a goal-scoring chance 15 minutes from time, which substitute Mostafa Fathi astonishingly missed with the goal at his mercy.

Coach Carlos Queiroz came under fire for fielding several players in unfamiliar positions even though he admitted before the tournament that he would use it to try out different strategies ahead of the African Nations Cup and the crucial World Cup qualifying playoff.

For Egypt, finishing third would be a scant consolation but Queiroz is aware he can't afford a second straight loss.

"Tomorrow we will face Qatar; the game will be to us like playing a World Cup final because Qatar is the World Cup host and they have been preparing themselves for six years and they participated in Copa America and other big tournaments," the Portuguese told the pre-match news conference.

"I have known the Qatar national team well for 11 years. I do not only follow them, but I played against them a lot. They are a team that is developing well and they have a distinctive style."

Qatar also lost to Algeria in the semis following a dramatic affair, in which they conceded a goal from Youcef Belaili 17 minutes into a lengthy stoppage time.

"We are determined to beat Qatar to make it up for our fans," said Egypt skipper and Saudi Arabia-based defender Ahmed Hegazi.

Egypt last met Qatar in a friendly game in 2013, which Qatar won 3-1.

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