Hosts Egypt tops Group A in grand style

Mohamed Salah of Egypt celebrates goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Uganda and Egypt at Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 30 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Hosts Egypt ended group A of the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations with maximum points after defeating Uganda 2-0 at Cairo International Stadium on Sunday night. The Pharaohs, already qualified before the game guaranteed the group top spot in grand style, winning all three matches of their mini league campaign.

Superstar Mohamed Salah and skipper Ahmed Elmohamady scored in the opening half final 10 minutes to give Egypt victory that guaranteed the top spot for the hosts, who now wait one of the qualified third teams (groups C, D or E) in the next round. Meanwhile Uganda qualified to the round of 16, finishing the group in second place, one point more than DR Congo who defeated Zimbabwe 4-0. The Leopards will now wait to see if they can grab one of the four places for the third placed teams.

Egypt started the match on attacking note, and had the game’s first attempt from Mahmoud Hassan “Trezeguet” who tried to go through Uganda’s defense but couldn’t control the ball.

The tide turned to Uganda’s side from then and Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy proved to be Egypt’s man to thank in several occasions. Emanuel Okwi’s shot was destined to give The Cranes the lead after 13 minutes but found the safe hands of Elshenawy, who once again saved The Pharaohs after 24 minutes.

Egypt was forced to do an early substitution after 24 minutes when forward Ahmed Hassan “Koka” was injured to leave his place to Marwan Mohsen.

Elshenawy once again saved the hosts after 28 minutes when he stopped Allan Kyambadde’s shot from close distance. The same fate was there again three minutes later when Al Ahly goalkeeper deflected Kyambadde’s shot to a corner kick.

And against the run of play, Egypt took the lead after 36 minutes. From a freekick Salah produced his magic once again to give The Pharaohs the lead with Uganda’s goalkeeper and captain Denis Onyango completely beaten.

Two minutes from the break Elshenawy returned to be Egypt’s hero when he stopped Abdo Lumala’s shot. And just before seeing the halftime whistle, Egypt’s captain Elmohamady doubled the hosts lead. Left back Ayman Ahsraf sent a calling cross that Salah missed, just for Elmohamady ro send a curling shot that left Onyango hapless.

The goal was Elmohamady’s second goal of the campaign, same as Salah.

Uganda started the second half trying to reduce the deficit, but it was Egypt who could have scored the third when Salah went one on one with Onyango but the Ugandan shot stopper had the upper hand. Farouk Miya could have scored for Uganda after 55 minutes but his shot missed the target.

Uganda had to deal with a huge blow when Onyango was injured and left his place to Robert Odongkara 20 minutes from time.

Both teams looked satisfied with the result and nothing new happened, to see Egypt ending the group with the maximum points, while Uganda reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1978.

Total Man of the Match: Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt)

What they said

Ahmed Elmohamady (Total Man of the Match)

To win three games with clean sheet is a great thing. This gives us morale boost to continue our way in the tournament. We don’t think of our next opponent, as you have seen all teams here are strong. We thank our supporters for their support and wait for them in the coming games.

Javier Aguirre (Coach, Egypt)

Uganda surprised me with their performance especially in the first half. The first goal opened the match and then we settled things before halftime. Topping the group with maximum points and three clean sheets proves our supremacy. Playing in front of 70,000 supporters who accept nothing but victory puts you under huge pressure. We just need some more confidence. I’m proud of my players.

Sebastien Desabre (Coach, Uganda)

I feel disappointed for the result. We played well and gave good impression about football in Uganda, but we didn’t score and conceded because of (Mohamed) Salah who made the difference with his talent. I thank my players and we are happy we qualified to the next round for the first time in 41 years.