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World Cup hungry Egypt to play Ghana in qualifiers playoff

The Pharaohs are paired with Ghana in the two-legged decider to hopefully end a 24 year World Cup drought

Mahmoud Elassal, Monday 16 Sep 2013
Egypt and Ghana
File photo: Egypt's players and Ghana's players in African Nations Cup final 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

Relief is felt in Egypt following news that the national team will be paired with the Black Stars of Ghana, avoiding north-African rivals Algeria in the World Cup playoffs on Monday.

The Pharaohs are happy to avoid the Desert Warriors, who knocked them out four years ago in a tie breaker that witnessed violent clashes and led to months of tensions between the two countries.

The Ghanaian team - four-time African champions - is one of the best african teams. However, former Egyptian striker Khaled Bibo says, "it will be all about football and we will avoid further unecessary elements."

Egyptian defender Wael Gomaa also said he would prefer to play against the Black Stars than any other team: "I would rather play Ghana than Cape Verde. They are a big team and we know them very well. We will be focused against them," he said, days before the draw.

Egypt has played Ghana in 21 games throughout the two sides' history, winning in ten, drawing in five and losing to the Black Stars in six games.

Bob Bradley's men will play their first leg in Ghana between 11-15 October and the return leg will be played in Egypt between 15-19 November. The draw is fortunate, as it gives the security situation in Egypt time to calm down in the hope the games will be played in front of packed stadiums.

The mighty Egyptians, who are the kings of Africa with a record of seven African titles, are seeking their third ever World Cup ticket; the first since 1990.

The Pharaohs are the only team to have collected maximum points in the group stage, having claimed six wins. However, such an impressive run will count for nothing if they fail to realise the long-held dream of playing at the World Cup.

The draw wrapped up in style with two other big games announced: Ivory Coast and Tunisia will face Senegal and Cameroon respectively.

The draw was held in the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, creating five two-leg ties between the highest ranked teams and the remaining five sides.

Egypt has been placed in Pot 2 for the African qualifiers, based on FIFA's world rankings, published on Thursday alongside Senegal, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. Meanwhile Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Tunisia are in the first pot.

FIFA Vice President, who is also the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou, attended the draw ceremony alongside Director of Competitions, Mustapha Fahmy.

Also in attendance were the Angolan Ambassador for Egypt, the Egyptian national team coach Bob Bradley and Burkina Fasan tactician Paul Put.

The draw was conducted by the head of the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers Competitions, with the assistance of CAF Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani.

The playoff matches:

Burkina Faso vs Algeria

Ghana vs Egypt

Tunisia vs Cameroon

Ethiopia vs Nigeria

Ivory Coast vs Senegal

The first leg will be played 11-15 October and the second 15-19 November 2013.

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