Mali game was the toughest in group: Egypt assistant coach

Osama Nabih said Egypt's players got used to the Stade de Port-Gentil arena and are focused only on the next game

Ahram Online , Thursday 26 Jan 2017,
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Egypt Players
Egypt's players celebrate a goal during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group D football match between Egypt and Ghana in Port-Gentil on January 25, 2017. (AFP)

Egypt assistant coach Osama Nabih said the Pharaohs played to win against Ghana on Wednesday, to lead Group D in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, without thinking about the difficulty of playing on Stade de Port-Gentil arena again, or considering their upcoming quarterfinals opponents.

"We wanted to influence and leave a memorable imprint on the continent, and the technical staff didn't consider any other matters. Our only target is to keep advancing," Nabih told an Egyptian Radio station after Wednesday's game.

After their 1-0 victory over Ghana, Egypt gained seven points. The Pharaohs were held to a goalless draw by Mali in the opener before snatching another hard 1-0 win against Uganda.

The four teams in Group D complained during the group stage of poor pitch quality in the Stade de Port-Gentil.

"The Mali game was the toughest game of the group stage because it was the opener, but Ghana was easier because we met recently in the World Cup qualifiers and we only needed to draw to qualify to the quarterfinals," Nabih explained.

Critics argued that Egypt took the hard route by leading their group, as the Pharaohs will host North African Arab neighbors Morocco in the quarterfinal on the same arena that stirred complaints. The winner will play either Tunisia or Burkina Faso in the semifinals.

"Our concerns about the pitch are over. Egypt players got used it. We are now only focusing on the next game," Nabih said.

Ghana, who qualified as second of the group with narrow wins over Uganda and Mali, will avoid playing in Stade de Port-Gentil as they will be hosted next by Group C leaders DR Congo at Oyem Stadium.

DR Congo and Ghana will bid Sunday to determine who will meet the winner of the Senegal-Cameroon game.

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Group A W D L P
Cameroon
2 1 0 7
Burkina Faso
1 1 1 4
Cape Verde
1 1 1 4
Ethiopia
0 1 2 1
Group B W D L P
Senegal
1 2 0 5
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Malawi
1 1 1 4
Zimbabwe
1 0 2 3
Group C W D L P
Morocco
2 1 0 7
Gabon
1 2 0 5
Comoros
1 0 2 3
Ghana
0 1 2 1
Group D W D L P
Nigeria
3 0 0 9
Egypt
2 0 1 6
Sudan
0 1 2 1
Guinea Bissau
0 1 2 1
Group E W D L P
Cote d Ivoire
2 1 0 7
Equatorial Guinea
2 0 1 6
Sierra Leone
0 2 1 2
Algeria
0 1 2 1
Group F W D L P
Mali
2 1 0 7
Gambia
2 1 0 7
Tunisia
1 0 2 3
Mauritania
0 0 3 0