Ethiopia defeat Salah-Less Egypt In the 2023 AFCON Qualifier
Egypt’s injured captain Mohamed Salah was severely missed as Egypt lost 2-0 to Ethiopia in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying on Thursday.
After defying his club last Sunday and playing in a win against Guinea despite not being entirely fit, the prolific Liverpool scorer was forced to withdraw due to a strain.
Despite the absence of several other first-team players, Egypt was projected to win all three Group D games in neutral Malawi against opponents ranked 108 places lower in the world rankings.
In the first half, though, the speedy Ethiopian strikers constantly harassed a sluggish Egyptian defense, and goals from Dawa Hotessa and captain Shemeles Bekele gave them a two-goal half-time lead.
On a surface that had been substantially ripped up in areas due to excessive pre-match rain, Egypt had greater possession in the second half.
Ethiopia, like 16 other qualifying teams, was obliged to play in Lilongwe due to a lack of an international-standard stadium.
Egypt’s coach, Ehab Galal, has only been in charge for two matches because Portuguese Carlos Queiroz was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
Galal, who left Cairo club Pyramids to take over the Pharaohs, will now face a lot of pressure as Egypt’s year of disappointments continues.
In February, they lost the previous Cup of Nations final on penalties to Senegal, and a month later, they suffered a similar fate in a play-off to determine who would represent Qatar at the 2022 World Cup.
Egypt trounced Guinea in the first round of 2023 Cup of Nations qualifying in 87 minutes, while their loss to Ethiopia dropped them to the bottom of the standings.
Galal and his team might take solace in the fact that the other teams in the section — Ethiopia, Malawi, and Guinea — have all won and lost, giving each team three points.
Naby Keita’s Winning
Guinea overcame Malawi 1-0 in Conakry, with Naby Keita, Salah’s Liverpool teammate, scoring in injury time.
Nigeria halted a five-match losing streak by beating Sierra Leone 2-1 in Abuja in a Group A match played behind closed doors due to crowd disturbance in a World Cup play-off against Ghana.
All three goals came before halftime, with Jonathan Morsay putting the Leone Stars ahead early on, Alex Iwobi tying the game up, and Victor Osimhen scoring the game-winner on 41 minutes.
Guinea-Bissau has a one-goal advantage over Nigeria after thrashing Sao Tome e Principe 5-1 in Agadir, Morocco, with Belgium-based Zinho Gano scoring a brace in the first eight minutes.
Despite the brilliance of South Africa’s captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Morocco won a high-profile Group K match 2-1 in Rabat.
It was the first encounter for both sides in a group that had been reduced to three teams due to Zimbabwe’s suspension due to government intervention, and Ayoub el Kaabi won it with a fantastic 87th-minute goal.
Cameroon, a fellow World Cup qualifier, also came out on top in Tanzania, beating Burundi 1-0 thanks to a goal from Karl Toko Ekambi.
Lesotho minnows held an Ivory Coast team loaded with Europe-based talents to a 0-0 draw in chilly Soweto.
The Ivorians have already qualified as hosts for 2023, however they are competing in Group H to gather competitive match experience.
The Comoros, Lesotho, and Zambia are now vying for a spot in the finals, with the Zambian Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) in second place on head-to-head records.
Mali defeated South Sudan 3-1 in extra time with 10 men, taking a three-point lead over Congo Brazzaville and Gambia in Group G.
Meanwhile it was reported that the Super Eagles Labour To Beat Sierra Leone In Abuja AFCON 2023 Qualifier
On the Day 1 of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification series, Nigeria’s Super Eagles struggle to defeat Sierra Leone in a 2-1 friendly match at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Thursday.
The Leone Stars, who rallied from four goals down to tie the match 4-4 in an AFCON qualifier against Nigeria in Benin City in November 2021, showed their intent as early as the fourth minute when Mohamed Turay’s rasping drive was deflected over the bar by Francis Uzoho.
Aribo’s superb ball was followed by Calvin Bassey’s tempting cross two minutes later, but Victor Osimhen’s header missed the target. Sadiq Umar’s beautiful ball found Osimhen in the tenth minute, but his shot was blocked.
Jonathan Morsay scored a spectacular goal with a diving header from a lovely cross by Musa Kamara just a minute later at the other end.
The visitors could have extended their lead four minutes later when they hit the crossbar on another counter-attack.
Nigeria drew parity in the 16th minute when Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon exchanged passes, with the former emphatically reaching the far corner of goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara’s post.
As the visitors poured forward again, Kamara stopped a strong Moses Simon header three minutes later, and Musa Kamara came near with a stinging grounder in the 35th minute.
Osimhen scored Nigeria’s second goal four minutes before halftime, driving the ball into the roof of the net following a Simon header off Ola Aina’s right-wing cross.
The game flowed from one end to the other in the second half, but in the 58th minute, Nigeria should have made it 3-1 when Iwobi and Osimhen cut open the visitors’ defense, only for Samuel Chukwueze to get too much purchase on his shot and drag it wide.
As Nigeria battled for another goal, Aribo, Osimhen, and replacement Ademola Lookman all squandered chances, but it took Aribo’s last-second intervention to deny the Leone Stars in extra time.