Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1327, (12 - 18 January 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Warm-up before the heat

Egypt beat Tunisia 1-0 in a friendly international before the start of the Africa Nations Cup, reports Inas Mazhar

 Warm-up before the heat
Warm-up before the heat

The Pharaohs actually achieved two victories — won the match and beat Tunisia for the first time in 15 years, official or friendly game.

It was an injury time goal that Marawan Mohsen netted for Egypt’s only goal at Cairo International Stadium on Sunday. The match was also Egypt’s first and last friendly before the team heads for the Africa Cup of Nations tomorrow, 11 January. The 31st edition of the 16-team tournament is scheduled to run from 14 January to 5 February.

The teams are divided into four groups of four teams each. The top two of each group qualify to the quarter-finals to be played on 28 and 29 January. Winners make it to the semi-finals which are scheduled to take place on 1 and 2 February. The play-off for third and fourth place will take place on 4 February while the final will be played on 5 February in the capital of Gabon, Libreville.

This is Egypt’s first appearance in the Nations Cup after missing out the last three championships. Egypt has won the tournament a record seven times, including three in a row, another record, starting in 2006.

The friendly was a chance for Egypt and Tunisia to try most of their players so they can settle on the main line-up for the Nations Cup. According to FIFA rules in international friendlies, each team had the right to change six players during the match.

The match had a limited 8,000 spectators for the first time in Cairo Stadium in two years for security reasons. It was also the first time the Pharaohs had played a game in the stadium during the same period. The stadium itself has not been hosting any matches during that time. However, recently it started holding some matches for second and third division teams but all held behind closed doors.

Egypt plays in Group D together with Ghana, Uganda and Mali. It opens its campaign in this year’s edition on Tuesday 17 January against Mali, then takes on Uganda on 21 January and concludes the group stage matches by meeting Ghana on 25 January.

Tunisia plays in Group B with Algeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe. They start with a tough game against Senegal on 15 January, then go to a North African clash against neighbours Algeria on 19 January and finally Zimbabwe on 23 January.

Before the Tunisia game, Egypt’s head coach Héctor Cúper had announced the 23-man squad which will take part in the competition:

Essam Al-Hadari, Sherif Ekrami, Ahmed Al-Shennawi (goalkeepers) and 20 outfielders — Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Al-Mohammadi, Abdullah Al-Said, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, Ibrahim Salah, Ahmed Dewidar, Ahmed Hegazi, Mohamed Al-Nenni, Mohamed Salah, Marawan Mohsen, Omar Gaber, Saad Samir, Tarek Hamed, Ahmed Hassan (Koka), Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim (Kahraba), Mahmoud Hassan (Trezige), Ali Gabr, Karim Hafez, Ramadan Sobhi and Amr Warda.

However, the Argentine coach later told a press conference which followed the Tunisia game that he had not yet made up his mind on the starting line-up for the first game against Mali. “We still have trainings to do. I am pleased with the performances of my players so far, but we still need to work more in the coming days before the kick-off of the event.”

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