From one to the other
Egypt temporarily closes the chapter on the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and focuses on qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations
Egypt's 2013 Africa Cup of Nations first leg qualifier with the Central African Republic will be played tomorrow, Friday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced. The game was initially slated for 17 June, but the Interior Ministry said it could not safeguard the match in the middle of Egypt's presidential elections, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, reports Ahmed Morsy.
This was the third time the match was rescheduled. It was to have been played on 29 February, but the CAF postponed it at the request of the Egyptian federation following February's Port Said tragedy in which 74 football fans were killed in a league game.
The two countries will meet again in the second leg on 30 June.
For the 2013 ACN qualifications, 28 national teams play in a knock-out phase that will strip the teams down to 14. The 14 winners will be joined by 16 finalists from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals: Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Gabon, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia.
They will go into a draw for a last round of 15 matches and the winners of those ties, to be played over two legs home and away in September and October, will qualify for the finals in South Africa.
For the first time since 1990, all the qualifying matches will be played on a knockout basis without advancing to any group stage because of the short interval between the 2012 finals and 2013 competition.
Of the 16 nations participating in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals, South Africa automatically gain entry as hosts after that country struck a deal with Libya to swap their hosting rights in 2017.
Libya was originally scheduled to act as hosts, but political instability in the North African country made it impossible. South Africa, as hosts of the 2017 tournament, stepped in and offered to switch, giving the Libyans more time to prepare.
Meanwhile, in the 2014 World Cup qualifications, Egypt claimed a thrilling 3-2 away victory over 10-man Guinea in Conakry on Sunday.
Though Egypt coach Bob Bradley picked a more defensive formation, featuring three central midfielders in Hosni Abd-Rabou, Mohamed Shawki and Mohamed El-Nenni, Guinea were still able to take the lead after 18 minutes from the spot. Abd-Rabou fouled Stuttgart winger Ibrahima Traore in the area, although television replays showed there was doubt as to whether there was real contact.
Abdoul Camara converted the penalty, sending the ball into the corner past Egypt goalie Essam El-Hadari, who guessed right and got a hand to it but could not stop the ball from going in.
In their bid to equalise, Egypt piled on pressure by substituting forward Ahmed Temsah for defensive midfielder Shawki, but to no avail during the rest of the first half.
In the second half, Egypt looked dominating, but the finishing touches were still letting them down till the 58th minute in which Egypt's pressure finally paid dividends.
Temsah ghosted unmarked on the left to receive a pass and pull the ball back to the evergreen Mohamed Abu Treika who equalised with a deft first-timer from close range.
In order to refresh his attack, Bradley introduced Mohamed Zidan replacing Mohamed Nagi 'Gedo'.
Nine minutes later, Abu Treika scored his second of the night, firing home from the spot to give Egypt the lead after Guinea keeper Naby Yattara was sent off for a wild challenge on midfielder Abd-Rabou.
Guinea's supporters were sent into raptures when substitute Alhassane Bangoura restored parity with an 88th minute strike after a fine individual effort.
In stoppage time, the late drama favoured the Egyptian side who maintained their perfect start to the qualifiers despite lack of competitive domestic action following February's Port Said disaster which cancelled the league. The promising forward Mohamed Salah, who will join Swiss side Basel in the close season, scored deep in stoppage time to hand Egypt a precious 3-2 win after breaking clear, running onto a brilliant pass from Zidan to beat the keeper with a curling shot.
Following their win, Egypt have six points from two games, three ahead of second-placed Guinea. Mozambique and Zimbabwe, who played out a goalless draw earlier on Sunday, lie third and fourth respectively with a solitary point.
The group winners will qualify for the final and decisive round, where two-legged ties will take place to determine Africa's five representatives at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Bradley dedicated the World Cup qualifying victory over Guinea to the people of Egypt.
"The players performed well throughout Guinea match," Bradley told television show Stad Africa after the game.
"Every day when the team are together, we talk about playing for the people," Bradley added.
"We know that everyone's dream in Egypt is that we go to the World Cup, so it is our mission for the people to do everything to get there.
"I think it was an important win but now we have to shift our concentration to the Africa Cup of Nations.
"Beating Guinea is important for the road to the World Cup," the American coach added. "It will help the players in the coming games. All the team's staff and the players are working hard to book a place in the 2014 World Cup."
Egypt's next game in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers is scheduled for 22 March next year against Zimbabwe in Cairo.