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Tuesday, 09 March 2021

Egypt look beyond Nations Cup qualification after win over Togo

Hossam El-Badry says the bigger target of reaching the 2022 World Cup fills his mind

Ahram Online , Tuesday 17 Nov 2020
Hossam El-Badry
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Egypt moved a step closer to securing their berth at the African Cup of Nations after beating Togo 3-1 in Lome on Tuesday, but coach Hossam El-Badry already has his eyes set on a bigger target.

The Pharaohs moved joint top with Comoros in their Nations Cup qualifying group on eight points, with goals from Magdi Afsha, debutant Mohamed Sherif and Aston Villa winger Mahmoud Trezeguet giving them a comfortable win on the road.

They will advance to the Cameroon finals with one match to spare in their group if they avoid a defeat away to Kenya, who are five points behind them in third, in March.

An unlikely scenario in which Egypt would fail to book a Nations Cup place is not really on the cards and El-Badry did seem to agree with the notion that the record seven-time African champions have all but made it through.

"The win today is a good step towards our qualification for the Nations Cup, but what fills my mind is the bigger target of reaching the 2022 World Cup," the former Ahly boss told reporters following the victory over Togo.

Egypt will play in Group F of the World Cup qualifiers along with Gabon, Angola and Libya.

They will start their campaign to reach the football's most prestigious showpiece for the second time running in June next year. The 10 group winners will advance to a two-legged playoff round to determine Africa's five representatives at the Qatar finals.

Seven changes

El-Badry made seven changes to his starting line-up for the Togo clash due to several absences, with Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny sitting out after contracting COVID-19.

Afsha made a rare start while Sherif, who is on loan at Enppi from Ahly, was given his debut after netting 14 goals for the sixth-placed in the Egyptian Premier League last season.

Olympiacos striker Ahmed Kouka was also given the nod ahead of Zamalek's Mostafa Mohamed, who played in Egypt's 1-0 home win over Togo on Saturday.

"I preferred to rest some players because of the limited time we had between the two games against Togo," El-Badry added.

"This was vindicated tonight as we were clearly better, and the second-half substitutions also injected zeal."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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