Though the first half ended goalless, the Pharaohs were able to recover through goals from Mahmoud Fathallah and Mohamed Zidan to win their first match of 2014 World Cup qualifying
Second half goals from Mahmoud Fathallah and Mohamed Zidan allowed Egypt to overcome a nervy start to 2014 World Cup qualifying against Mozambique at the Borg El Arab stadium in Alexandria on Friday.
As expected, Egypt took control from the outset but their early attacks lacked incision as players such as Mohamed Salah and Geddo tried their luck from distance without success. The first bit of clever interplay between Mohamed Aboutrika and Salah occurred early on but concluded with a weak shot from the Basel-bound striker.
The youngster wasted an even better opportunity on eight minutes after a delicate lofted through ball from the Al-Ahly legend. Instead of crossing to a cutting Geddo, Salah selfishly opted to shoot himself and his lob attempt didn’t trouble Mozambican goalkeeper Joao Rafael Kapango.
Gert Engel’s side were awarded their first corner shortly thereafter but execution was poor and they failed to take advantage of one of their rare opportunities of the first half. On the other hand, the Pharaohs were beginning to settle into more of a passing rhythm and one attack culminated with a Geddo header that was well saved by the Black Mambas shot-stopper.
In minute 43, a stray pass from Almiro “Miro” Lobo almost cost his team dearly but Hosni Abd-Rabo’s scuffed shot went wide after Salah led the ensuing counter-attack and the game was goalless after the first period.
The second half began with Mozambique playing much higher up the pitch, with their coach clearly intent on putting Egypt under pressure instead of absorbing all of it. However, the strategy backfired as it only took 10 minutes for Egypt to get their much-sought opener after Ahmed Hegazi headed down an Abd-Rabo cross for Fathallah to score with a lunging kick.
On the other end, Miro had a golden chance to stun the hosts with an equaliser but pulled his shot wide despite being well placed to score. Mozambique were quickly made to pay for this lack of efficiency as Ahmed Temsah assisted substitute striker Zidan who blasted a shot onto the goalpost that deflected off Kapango’s back and into the net for Egypt’s second.
The Black Mambas’ desperation was showing as they pushed numbers forward and were nearly rewarded for forcing the Pharaohs into some defensive mistakes but the locals held on to claim full points in contrast to their stuttering start to the 2010 qualifying campaign. Thus, coach Bob Bradley has passed his first real test ahead of a much more challenging trip to Guinea in a little over a week’s time.