Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 2
Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 4
MOHAMED Salah’s hat-trick and the Warriors pathetic defending were all on show as Zimbabwe fell in agonising fashion to Egypt in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
By HENRY MHARA, SPORTS REPORTER
Winger Salah, who was named the 2012 Caf Most Promising African Talent of the Year added to Mohammed Aboutrika’s early opener while the hosts found their goals though a first-half strike by Knowledge Musona and a headed effort by defender Lincoln Zvasiya late in the second half.
The result left Zimbabwe rooted at the bottom of Group G with a point and out of the World Cup campaign while Egypt, at 12 points, would need just a point from their next game against Mozambique to qualify for the next round of qualifiers.
Yesterday’s result could still be enough for the North Africans if Guinea did not collect maximum points against Mozambique in a match that was played last night.
A dejected Dieter-Klaus Pagels, who decided to bench regulars Khama Billiat and Denver Mukamba for Tafadzwa Rusike and Hardlife Zvirekwi, felt his team handed the three points to Egypt.
“We lost this match because of individual mistakes at the back. We created more chances than them especially in the second half and the only problem was the defence,” Pagels said.
He explained the axeing of his captain Mukamba and Billiat from the first team. “What they did when they came in camp was not enough and Tafadzwa and the other players did really well and we had to bring those that had impressed at training, he said. “All the players have to come in camp and do their best to be in the first team, but some did not do enough so we had to make a decision.”
Egypt coach Bob Bradley said: “Mohammed Salah had a great match with three goals, but the contribution came from all parts of the field. We are continuing to go one step at a time and if Guinea fails to win then we have qualified.
“Defensively, there were some moments when we were as good as we needed to be. Our overall organisation was good, but I thought there were many 50-50 situations where the opposition were still able to take the ball away from us and attacked us. That credit belongs to the talents of players such as Knowledge Musona and others.”
The Warriors started brightly with some quick passing game, but would find themselves in the back foot as early as the sixth minute when the troublesome Salah escaped on the right wing before crossing the ball to Aboutrika to fire home from close range.
On 22nd minute, Zimbabwe found the equaliser when Musona got to the end of Devon Chafa’s pass to easily lob the ball over the advancing Egyptian keeper Sharif Ramy.
A quick throw-in by the Egyptians in the 31st minute caught the Zimbabwe defence sleeping and Salah raced clear, but Warriors goalie Washington Arubi’s double save denied the Egyptians a second goal.
The Warriors had the next chance when Musona beat two defenders, but his grounder from inside the box was easily dealt with by Ramy.
The game was dragging towards the end of the first half when Egypt took an unlikely lead. A defensive blunder by defender Felix Chindungwe, who allowed the ball to bounce in front of him, freed Salah and the Basel man beat Arubi with a curling shot which went under his body.
Pagels introduced Billiat at halftime and the Ajax Cape Town was immediately involved.
Billiat used his searing pace to beat a defender on the right before crossing the ball, but Cuthbert Malajila was just an inch slow.
Moments later, Billiat had his shot just wide after being set by Musona.
Zimbabwe had what looked like a genuine penalty appeal turned down in 58th minute when the lively Ocean Mushure’s intended cross hit Ahmed Fathy’s hand, but the Gambian referee Gassamma Bakary waved play on. Another substitute Ovidy Karuru had a shot blocked as Zimbabwe desperately searched for an equaliser.
However, Egypt effectively sealed the win on 77 minutes when Mukamba casually lost possession in the middle of the pitch and Ahmed Ibrahim quickly released Salah, and the 22-year-old made no mistake from inside the box.
Mushure’s cross was then headed into the nets by Zvasiya as the Warriors tried to fight back, but Salah would have the last say in the 85th minute, sneaking behind the defence to place the ball beyond Arubi’s reach.
Teams: Zimbabwe: W Arubi, P Jaure, O Mushure, F Chindungwe (K Billiat, 46’), L Zvasiya, D Chafa, A Gutu (D Mukamba, 61’), H Zvirekwi, T Rusike (O Karuru, 70’), K Musona, C Malajila.
Egypt: S Ramy, A Fathy, A Sheded, W Gomaa, A Eid (A Ahmed, 63’), M Fathala, A Hegazy, E Neni (A Ibrahim, 67’), H Ashour (A Tensah, 85’), A Salah, M Aboutrika