Tournament host, Egypt secured a safe passage into the the second round of the 2019 Total African Cup of nations after a 2-0 victory over Group A rivals, DR Congo.
With two first half goals from Captain Ahmed El Mohammedy and talisman Mohammed Salah, the Pharoahs made it two wins out of two matches, making them the second team to book their place in the knockout round following Nigeria who qualified after beating Guinea by a lone goal. The match which was billed to be the standout game in Group A didn’t fail to disappoint as it was nothing short of excitement and end-to-end stuff especially with the DRC loosing their opening game to Uganda and Egypt winning against Zimbabwe. DRC will rue missed opportunities and hard luck as they twice struck the bar and their hope of qualification into the next stage now hungs by a thread.
The match started with the Congolese taking the game to their Egyptian counterparts yet they couldn’t make use of their possession as they allowed the host nation to come into the game with the pace of Salah and the trickery of M. Trezequet causing problems for their defence yet there were no clear cut goal scoring opportunities for both sides as the delivery in the final lacked quality.
But with two moments of brilliance, Egypt had scored two goals and were on their way to the second round of the competition. The first came in the 26th minute in what looked like a training ground corner routine. A short corner was worked to Salah whose left footed drive was not well dealt with by the Congolese and the ball fell at the feet of Captain El Mohammedy who had it all to do, shifting it from left to right and stabbing it home to put the Pharoahs ahead much to the delight of the packed home fans in the Cairo International Stadium. It soon would have been two in the 31st minute but only a brilliant save from Matampi denied Salah from scoring a well struck freekick after Trezequet has been brought down at the edge of the penalty box. But delay they say is not denial. The second goal eventually arrived in the 43rd minute and it was all about the exciting Trezequet. A mazy run from deep within his own half saw him play an exquisite through ball to the feet of Mo Salah who controlled it beautifully with his right foot and squeezed it with his left foot into the left hand of Matampi’s post. 2-0!! And Egypt were home and dry. The first half ended with Egypt firmly in control of the game.
The second half was more of DR Congo trying and Egypt resisting till the game ended. The closest the Congolese came was a freekick by substitute Bolasie which went wide. The Egyptians may not have been at their sparkling best but they were efficient enough to get the job done. For the DRC, they have it all to do for themselves against Zimbabwe and hope other results will favour them and make them one of the best third placed teams to qualify but as things stands now, they’re as good as out of AFCON 2019. The tournament continues tomorrow with action in Group B and C.
Writer :Qwesi Nabila Zakariah (@qwesi_nabila)