Return to normalcy

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 28 Mar 2023

Salah and Marmoush

EGYPT jumped to a first-place tie in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers after back to back wins against Malawi.

Egypt pounded Malawi 4-0 on Tuesday in their fourth game of the group stage in the qualifiers for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

With two matches to go, Egypt and Guinea share the lead in Group D with nine points each. Malawi and Ethiopia have three points each.

At Bingu National Stadium in the capital Lilongwe, Tarek Hamed, Omar Marmoush and Mohamed Salah, all foreign-based players playing for Ittihad Jeddah, VfL Wolfsburg and Liverpool respectively, had made it 3-0 at the half.

Ahmed Zizo of Egypt’s Zamalek added the fourth in the 49th minute.

Salah and Marmoush were the scorers in the third round of matches in an easy home victory in front of 20,000 fans in 30 June Stadium on Friday. It was the first official game for Egypt’s Portuguese coach Rui Vitoria after winning three friendlies.

It was also the first group game for Egypt since June of last year when they were stunned 2-0 by Ethiopia, a result which helped end the brief tenure of Egyptian coach Ehab Galal and brought in Vitoria.

The loss was especially shocking in a group that Egypt, the record seven-time African champions, would have been expected to win with ease. The first two teams advance to the 2024 AFCON which will be played in Ivory Coast in January and February.

“We deserved to win,” Vitoria said after the first game with Malawi. ‘’The Malawi team did not have any clear opportunity to score.”

After a nine-month break in the qualifiers, the teams suddenly were forced to play two games in four days.

The final two games will be played in June.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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