Posted October 15, 2013

Egyptian World Cup dream hits roadblock as Ghana routs Pharaohs 6-1

2014 World Cup, World Cup qualifying

The Egyptian national team and its steadfast American coach, Bob Bradley, have endured political turmoil, the horror of last year’s Port Said massacre, the cancellation of the national league and home games in empty stadiums. They overcame it all to finish atop their World Cup qualifying group with a perfect 6-0-0 record.

But the two-leg African playoff against Ghana, which kicked off Tuesday, appears to be too big an obstacle. The talented Black Stars were dominant in the opener, routing Bradley’s Pharaohs, 6-1, in Kumasi.

Even if Egypt is allowed to host the second game on Nov. 19 (FIFA may move the match if it’s unsatisfied with the security situation), overcoming that five-goal deficit looks impossible.

WAHL: Egypt coach Bob Bradley says he hasn’t been fired after Ghana defeat

Ghana is just too strong, and that was evident within seconds at the Baba Yara Stadium. Asamoah Gyan, the forward who scored the extra-time winner against Bradley’s U.S. in the World Cup’s round-of-16 three years ago, wasted an open look at goal just 11 seconds in. In the fifth minute, Gyan atoned and lifted Ghana into the lead, taking a clever feed from Majeed Waris, racing into the penalty area and ripping a perfect shot across the face of goal and past Egyptian netminder Sherif Ekramy.

The visitors were able to move the ball a bit across the patchy field, but nearly every missed pass or poor touched was ruthlessly punished. Waris came close on a 17th-minute header, then Chelsea legend Michael Essien created an own goal with a nifty dribbling run in the 22nd.

Egypt proved resilient and found a lifeline toward the end of the first half. Young FC Basel star Mohamed Salah drew a penalty kick and veteran midfielder Mohamed Aboutreika converted, giving Bradley’s team some hope.

It lasted about three minutes. In the 44th, with the smoke from the visiting fans’ flares still settled over the field, Waris finished off an Essien free kick and with it, Egypt.

Gyan, Sulley Muntari (on a dubious penalty) and Christian Atsu netted in the second half to put Ghana on the verge of qualifying for its third consecutive World Cup.

STRAUS: Bosnia-Herzegovina earns first World Cup berth on Ibisevic’s winner

Egypt hasn’t advanced to the finals since 1990. Although it has managed to win four African Cup of Nations titles in the interim, something has always gone awry during qualification for the sport’s biggest event.

This time around, there were more than enough obstacles to send Egypt packing well before Tuesday. Sixteen of the 23 players Bradley brought to Ghana are with Egyptian clubs, which have had no league play since June. And that’s just the beginning.

But the Pharaohs persevered until Ghana proved it was just too good.

The other four African playoff series started over the weekend. Heading into next month’s deciders, Burkina Faso leads Algeria 3-2, Ivory Coast is up over Senegal 3-1, Nigeria is ahead of Ethiopia 2-1, and Tunisia and Cameroon are all square after a 0-0 draw in Radès.

STRAUS: World Cup qualifying standings and scenarios for Tuesday’s games

22 comments
RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Here's the way you attack the 2nd leg of this game if you want to have ANY chance at all (and I highly doubt that Bradley will have the risk-taking mentality necessary to go this route):


1.  Spend the time between now and the 2nd game practicing one thing - long-range shooting and shooting in general.  Shoot, shoot, shoot and then practice shooting some more.  Shoot so much that they're all sick of doing it.  Then do even more.

2. Be prepared during the game to take long-range shots over and over.

3. Start the game full-out, full-bore.  If Egypt can net a few quick ones, suddenly their outlook and potential changes and individual belief is a huge tool in sporting activities.

4. Also practice for Set-Pieces and instruct your players to be ready to (and I hate to say this but it's a necessary and awful evil) take dives and do their best to draw penalties and/or free kicks in the area.

5. Realize that Ghana will just sit back and defend so they'll (Egypt) need to take the initiative from the start and attack, attack, attack!


It's a long-shot but you'll have way better odds if you take this approach, in my opinion.

pickle
pickle

This week's SI had a big article about how Bradley had done the impossible by bringing Egypt to the brink of World Cup qualification. I support Bradley and was hoping to see them qualify but as I read the article I felt like it was just too premature, whenever it would reference the Ghana game it was like it didn't even matter and they had already qualified.....oh well, hopefully he doesn't get fired 

Hendo
Hendo

If your dream was crushed 6-1, maybe it's time to wake up.


derrickdonkor20
derrickdonkor20

derekosley why re u blaming it on the pitich, when u go to the north part of africa western africans always face terrible pitches but we still endure. sometimes bad services in hotel because we playing their contries. for thiswe re afraid for our players safety next leg. and remember this a good team never complains about pitch through all odd they can still win and one thing we all played on the same pitch. moreover it was the home ground for egypt in the CAN 2008 which they won. and most of their players plays in africa so that pitch is not new to them. they just couldnt handle the ghanaians. they re taking the world cup next year.

DerekOsley
DerekOsley

Given the absolutely horrific pitch conditions, I didn't understand why Bradley wasn't pressing Ghana in their own half right from the beginning.  It's the obvious tactic, because no one could quickly settle the ball.  And it should have trumped any "defensive" game plan because that's how bad the pitch was.  If the match had ended up something like 4-2 or 3-1, we'd still have a contest.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

What a bummer.  It would be big for the US's credibility in the sport in general if an American manager can ever take a foreign team to World Cup qualification.  And it came sooo close to happening here.

Ted15
Ted15

"Ghana is too strong..."?  even before the game, Ghana is ranked 20+ spots ahead of Egypt.  there was never a realistic chance for Egypt to pass Ghana especially when they were never tested with any teams ranked higher than them in the first round. all these talk about Egypt going to Brasil because of Bradley is surreal..... i understand why Bradley tried to do but in a way, he is also in a win/win situation. with all the upside and no downside. if Egypt qualified, Bradley would be recognized as a great coach who coached a very weak team into Brasil (Halo Effect).  if Egypt lost, Bradley has a 2 yr contract, and since this is Egypt, a very weak team, Bradley would not be blamed. so all these talk about how "heroic" Bradley has been is just a little too much. 

Agent0fN0thing
Agent0fN0thing

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we watch sports for those times when the improbable happens. Let's not count Egypt out just yet (though it wouldn't hurt if Ghana would do just that).

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

That sucks.  :(  Crappy draw.     I hate Ghana.  Hope they get wiped out in the World Cup.   BOOO!!!

Doug1
Doug1

So if Egypt were 6-0-0 in qualifying, why would they get drawn against one of the African powers in Ghana in a knockout round?  Why didn't they get one of the littler fish?

DanBee
DanBee

@RomarioDelLago 

Ghana sitting back and defending?  I dont think so.  I'd be surprised if Ghana dont score 3 goals in the second leg. Their team is full of quality and there's no way Egypt can compete. I think Egypt should keep BB.  He's a great coach and still building their team.

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

@derrickdonkor20 - LOL...there's no way the Ghana team is winning the World Cup next year.  No chance at all.  That's just ridiculous.

DanBee
DanBee

@DerekOsley 

The Ghana  middle of (Asamoah Juve), Muntary (AC MIlan), Essien (Chelsea), and Ayew (OM) didn't give them any chance to press.  Those are word class midfielders in case you dont know.

DanBee
DanBee

@DerekOsley 


Some of you just dont understand the game.  Trust me, Ghana will be beat EGypt in their backyard. I dont think Ghana is ready to win a world cup but they are just too good for this Egyptian team.


DerekOsley
DerekOsley

@Ted15 You miss the point.  It's nothing remotely close to a win-win, because Egypt is a very unstable place where killings occur constantly, including in soccer stadiums.  You see, that's why foreigners are advised to not visit.  Getting shot or blown up or kidnapped is LOSE, not win.  So Bradley is indeed a hero for sticking it out through all of this, and plus his team was the only one in African qualifying with a perfect record.  A drubbing by a much better team, and your 20-20 hindsight, doesn't change that.

DanBee
DanBee

@RomarioDelLago 


hahaha  stop being emotional and give credit where it;s due. Ghana is the only team in Africa that crank talents everyday in case you are not aware.  They have many players playing in great leagues in Europe. Some dont even get called up.

DanBee
DanBee

@Doug1 

SO CAF should change its rules because you want Egypt to qualify, right?

tjpeluso
tjpeluso

@Doug1 The two pots for the final CAF qualifying round were determined based on the September FIFA rankings. Egypt was sixth overall among the remaining CAF teams and thus got tossed in the second pot with the lesser teams to be drawn against the powers, then had terrible luck in the draw. 'Tis what it is, but they deserved better. If Egypt is smart, they will try to sign Bradley long-term with an eye on Russia in 2018.

Agent0fN0thing
Agent0fN0thing

@DerekOsley @Agent0fN0thing I think you miss my point. A lot can happen in a month. The injury bug can strike any team. A run of bad form can strike any team. So can a run of good form. Is it realistic to expect any of these things? No. I do not expect that Egypt will get lucky. The most we can realistically expect of Egypt is a respectable showing for the home leg game. Even if they don't pull out a 7-0 win, a well-played win would probably be enough to at least protect Bradley's job.

Ted15
Ted15

@tjpeluso @Doug1 i bet not. i could understand 2-0 or even 3-0.  but 6-1?  clearly there is something very wrong with the coaching staff.  the defense was non existent.  Egypt should try a different coach.