Preview: Egypt out to secure World Cup playoff berth in Luanda

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Nov 2021

Egypt will be keen to maintain their fine start under Carlos Queiroz and secure a berth in the World Cup qualifying playoff with one match to spare in their group when they face Angola in Luanda on Friday.

Egypt v Angola
Egypt defeated Angola 1-0 in their opening Group F clash in September (Photo: Ahram)

The Pharaohs moved within touching distance of a place in the final round after recording 1-0 and 3-0 wins over Libya at home and away respectively to brush aside their main challengers for Group F's solitary ticket to the two-legged playoff.

The back-to-back victories saw Egypt top the group with 10 points, four ahead of Libya and six clear of Gabon. Angola, who are already out of contention, lie at the bottom with three points following a disappointing qualifying campaign.

Egypt will ensure they will finish as leaders if they beat Angola. In the event of a draw, they will also secure their playoff place if Libya stumble against Gabon in the other group game.

"The team played with competence and character. It was nice to enjoy a good start, but a good start alone is not enough. This is all about finishing with success," Queiroz said following the wins over Libya.

"There is a price to pay, which is full commitment and sacrifices for the team, until the end."

Egypt has adopted a balanced strategy under Queiroz, who looks bolder than predecessor Hossam El-Badry when it comes to away games. El-Badry's last match in charge saw Egypt snatch a hardly deserved 1-1 draw at Gabon after being outplayed for most of the game.

One player who has been key to Queiroz's attacking strategies -- Stuttgart's on-loan winger Omar Marmoush -- is absent due to an ankle injury.

Marmoush scored a delightful winner in the home game against Libya before providing a superb assist in the away tie.

Surprisingly, Queiroz dropped Pyramids winger Ramadan Sobhi, who looked a straightforward replacement for Marmoush, and opted against calling up any natural left winger.

He recalled Ahly's key duo Mohamed Sherif and Magdi Afsha, who both excelled in the team's impressive 5-3 Cairo derby victory over Zamalek last Friday, after they were left out of the games against Libya.

Zamalek's midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed and central defender Mahmoud El-Wensh were not included in the squad for the Angola game.

Egypt, who opened their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 home win over Angola in September, host Gabon in their final Group F game on Tuesday.

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