Egypt forward Mohamed Salah in action against Tunisia on Tuesday. Photo: Ahram
Vitoria's men had maintained an undefeated streak for over a year, boasting eight consecutive victories in all competitions since the Portuguese manager assumed his role in July 2022, until the Carthage Eagles brought his dream debut to an end.
Tunisia seized control early in the game, surging to a 2-0 lead within the first seven minutes. Aissa Laidouni opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, followed by an unfortunate own goal by Hamdi Fathi in the 7th minute. Hamza Rafia sealed the victory for Tunisia with a goal in injury time, while Egypt's Omar Kamal managed a consolation goal in the 34th minute.
Vitoria made seven changes to his starting lineup due to the absence of Ahly players and several injuries. Despite the return of skipper and inspirational forward Mohamed Salah, the absence of goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy and three key defenders proved to be decisive.
Tunisia initiated the contest with a blistering start, finding the net twice in a dazzling seven-minute display that silenced the home crowd.
Laidouni capitalized on a poorly cleared ball by defender Ali Gabr, sending a brilliant shot into the top corner just three minutes into the match. Four minutes later, Fathi inadvertently put the ball into his own net while attempting to clear a cross from Wajdi Kechrida.
Coach Rui Vitoria quickly intervened, altering the team's formation to a 3-4-3 setup to restore his team's composure. The Pharaohs displayed signs of improvement, with Omar Marmoush's free-kick attempt hitting the post in the 14th minute.
In the 34th minute, Omar Kamal, who earned his first starting role under Coach Vitoria, scored from outside the box, capitalizing on his team's dominant phase.
After halftime, the hosts continued to exert dominance but struggled to break through as the Tunisians adopted a defensive stance.
Mostafa Mohamed and Salah managed some on-target attempts, but none posed a real threat to the Tunisian keeper.
Egypt mounted a mass offensive in the final minutes, leaving ample space at the back, which was exploited by Rafia, who scored in injury time to seal the game.
Despite the bitter taste of defeat, Vitoria still has four months to address his team's shortcomings before the Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled for January 2024.
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