Egypt claim consolation win but Ghana have last laugh

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 19 Nov 2013

Egypt secure a narrow 2-1 victory over Ghana that saves their face but does little to trouble the Black Stars, who reach the World Cup for the third successive time

Egypt's Mohamed Salah runs with the ball at the World Cup qualifying playoff second leg soccer match, at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo (Photo: AP)

Egypt produced a spirited display to beat Ghana 2-1 in Cairo but it was a mere consolation as the Black Stars became the fourth African team to reach next year's World Cup finals with a comprehensive 7-3 aggregate win.

The Pharaohs' task to overturn a five-goal deficit, having suffered a humiliating 6-1 loss in the first leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff in Kumasi, was deemed almost impossible.

However, around 25,000 fans still flocked to the army-owned 30 June Stadium in Cairo to cheer on Egypt, who made their second of two World Cup appearances in 1990 in Italy. It was the first match to take place in Cairo since the 2012 Port Said disaster.

The match has probably marked the end of the reign of American coach Bob Bradley, whose contract ran out amid reports that he would be replaced with an Egyptian coach.

Talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika is also likely to wave goodbye to his international career, having announced that he would retire from professional football following the Club World Cup in Morocco next month, where Ahly will be making their fifth appearance.  

Kuwait-based striker Amr Zaki, back to Egypt's fold following a lengthy absence, gave the hosts a glimmer of hope when he opened the scoring after 25 minutes. But it was not until the 83rd minute that Egypt added a second via a goal from substitute Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo'.

Kevin-Prince Boateng scored a late goal for Ghana, who joined Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon in next year's Brazil finals.

Passionate crowd

Roared on by a passionate crowd, a spirited Egypt side had the better possession in a first half they mostly dominated, laying siege to Ghana's area and launching a wave of attacks.

Bradley made several changes to the side that lost in Kumasi, opting for a more attacking approach.

The physical presence of lone striker Zaki unsettled Ghana's backline and gave Egypt a variety of options to break down a dogged defence, unlike the first leg when Egypt were toothless due to the lack of an established frontman.

Ghana still created the first chance when Rashid Sumaila outpaced his marker to break clear after six minutes but his angled shot went wide.

Egypt then pressed Ghana high up the pitch, cutting short their shy counter-attacking attempts and relentlessly moving the ball around, trying to exploit any gaps.

The pressure paid dividends on 25 minutes when Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda grasped at thin air to allow a free-kick from talisman Mohamed Abou-Treika to elude him, hit Zaki's body and go into the net.

Bradley made an early substitution, introducing Gedo instead of ineffective attacking midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba but the Hull City forward was largely shackled by Ghana's backline.

Egypt eased off in the second half as they were restricted to some half-chances, including a bicycle kick from Abou-Treika that went over the bar from seven yards out.

Bradley introduced Zamalek's Mahmoud Abdel-Razek 'Shikabala' and Ismaily's central midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabou in a bid to inject zeal but Egypt remained somewhat sluggish.

Gedo drew some cheers from the crowd when he netted the second with seven minutes remaining, his angled drive beating Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda at the near post after he latched onto a through pass from Mohamed Salah.

However, Ghana had the last laugh when substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng blasted home into the roof of the net after catching his marker napping, making the most of a centre from Asamoah Ghana as the visitors sealed smooth passage to the World Cup.

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