Egypt on brink of U-20 World Cup exit after another defeat

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

Egypt are on the verge of exiting the U-20 World Cup after losing 2-1 to Iraq for their second consecutive defeat in Turkey


A toothless and vulnerable Egypt side squandered their lead for the second match in a row to slump to a 2-1 loss to Iraq that put them on the verge of exiting the U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

Egypt had to weather early pressure before opening the scoring in the 27th minute, thanks to a superb header from Portugal-based striker Ahmed Hassan "Kouka", who notched his first international goal.

However, Ammar Al-Asadi leveled the score few minutes later and a late strike by Mohannad Abdul-Raheem condemned the young Pharaohs to their second consecutive defeat after they lost 2-1 to Chile earlier this week.

The defeat leaves Egypt flirting with an exit as they lie at the bottom of Group E. Iraq and Chile have four points each, two ahead of third-placed England with one match remaining.

Egypt's only hope would be beating England in their last group game on Saturday to finish as one of the top four third-placed teams.

The African champions appeared toothless despite the mazy runs of attacking midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba, who often found himself isolated upfront. A packed midfield has also failed to close down spaces, allowing their Iraqi counterparts too much space to operate.

Iraq had the better of the early exchanges, exposing the gaps in Egypt's midfield to pile on pressure. A 13-minute volley by Humam Tariq was superbly blocked by Egypt keeper Mosaad Awad, who has recently completed a move to Cairo giants Ahly from coastal club Ismaily.

However, Egypt scored against the run of play when Kouka powerfully headed an inch-perfect cross into the far corner of the net after 27 minutes.

Iraq still looked the livelier side despite falling behind and managed to restore parity six minutes later when Al-Asadi burst towards the area unopposed to send a fierce low shot that left Awad with no chance.

Egypt created some decent chances in the second half, including a downward header from skipper Ramy Rabia that went narrowly wide, but it was Iraq who scored the decisive goal with 11 minutes remaining following a superb individual effort from Abdul-Raheem.

Abdul-Raheem, making the most of a defensive lapse, gathered a loose ball and skipped past his challenger before rounding keeper Awad to slot into an empty net.

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