And on to Accra
The pharaohs did what was expected of them, nothing more, nothing less, when they secured a place in the African Nations Cup yesterday evening by winning in front of an almost empty stadium in Cairo against Botswana. The winning goal in the 1-0 victory, only came after coach Hassan Shehata substituted star strikers Moetab and Zaki halfway through the second half. One of the two who came on the pitch was Ismaili player Muhammed Fadl, who was to play the unlikely role of hero, when he scored with a header in the 76th minute.
After having qualified from a very easy group, they can expect tough opposition in the group stage, and going through will be no picnic in Ghana this coming January-February. But hopefully they will be able to defend the title as African champions and play in the final in Accra on February 10th. The pharaohs won on home soil last February.
The bigger picture however, is the qualifications for the 2010 mundial, and the Egyptian team have the players to pull it off. If they play as a team, they will have a fair chance to be in South Africa in the summer of 2010.
If that happens it will be the third time that Egypt qualifies for the world Cup. It would be sweet to be able to add 2010 to the years 1934 and 1990, i´m sure the heroes from the Italy 90 campaign , first and foremost among them Magdi Abd al Ghani and Hossam Hassan would be equally happy.
Mabrouk to Hassan Shehata and the team!