The Central African Republic kept their cool in Bangui and claimed a 1-1 draw that sent them to the final round of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying over Egypt
A first half goal from Foxi Kethevoama at the Barthelemy Boganda stadium in Bangui proved more than enough for the Central African Republic to claim a historic result and a place over Egypt in the second round of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
The match lacked rhythm in the opening stages, with both teams looking slightly nervous as they came to grips with the importance of the occasion. Play was constrained to the middle of the pitch where a stiff physical battle was taking place, with the hosts having a slight upper hand. It took until the 12th minute for the first shot of the match to be taken but Franklin Clovis Anzite’s long distance effort was straight at Issam El-Hadary.
On the other end, Mohamed Salah was controversially denied a penalty appeal on the ensuing play as the FC Basel player looked to have been tripped from behind by Ferdaner Kassai as he was preparing to shoot or cross. The opportunity seemed to give Egypt more confidence in their abilities and the Pharaohs showed an improved ability to control possession and the tempo thereafter but still lacked incision in the final third.
Though the visitors enjoyed more possession, it was Herve Loungoudji’s men who were creating the better chances as evidence by a well executed cross by Kethevoama to first-leg hero Hilaire Momi who struck his volley wide. On 22 minutes, Kethevoama was involved again, this time scoring a well-placed header following an accurate Romaric Lignanzi cross, prompting joyous celebrations from the Bangui faithful.
The ill-timed goal was a crushing blow to Egypt’s confidence whose players looked to recover via the efforts of Mohamed Salah and Meteb but each of them struggled to apply the finishing touch to their team’s rushed attacks. Things could have been much worse for the visitors as the Senegalese referee turned a blind eye to David Manga being brought down by El-Hadary in minute 35 after Bob Bradley’s defense fell victim to another lofted ball.
In the second half, Egypt brought on Ahmed Hassan Mekki for Mohamed El Nenny and Ahmed Temsah for Geddo in search of a better attacking output. While the changes allowed Bradley’s team to conserve the ball better, the final result was the same. Centrafrique were content to sit deep, inviting the pressure and employing a counter attacking strategy. The hosts’ game plan was proving more effective as Kethevoama had an early chance to double the Fauves’ advantage but pulled his effort wide despite having El-Hadary at his mercy.
Pharaohs substitute Mekki put a header over the crossbar on 52 minutes despite being well placed to score while Momi answered with his own shot above the goal-frame. With the playing surface causing them problems, Egypt began focusing most of their efforts on high crosses that were dealt with relatively easily by the tall and athletic CAR defenders.
With time ticking down, Mohamed Aboutrika fired a warning shot on 66 minutes but his vicious strike was saved by an outstretched Geoffrey Lembet. Shortly thereafter, Egypt finally got off the mark minutes later when Temsah dribbled past his marker and squared a ball for Meteb whose deflected effort beat the Fauves goalkeeper and rekindled the Pharaohs hopes of achieving their desired result.
The final stages of the match featured direct play from both sides as Ahmed Hegazi played as a makeshift centre-forward. There were chances for both teams, with El Hadary making an impressive save off a close range Momi drive.
Despite the intense action, the score stayed as it was for the Central African Republic to claim a surprise 4-3 aggregate win over the former kings of Africa who will miss out on their second consecutive Afcon in January. Meanwhile, Loungoudji’s men will wait to learn the name of their next opponents in the coming days and are close to qualifying for their first continental tournament ever.