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Egypt edge out a tough Angola side in Cairo thanks to early Afsha penalty

Angola provided an unexpected stern challenge to Egypt, but the Pharaohs came out with a 1-0 victory to start their FIFA World Cup qualification bid on a positive note Wednesday. Al Ahly midfielder Mohamed “Afsha” provided the winning goal from the penalty spot but Egyptian supporters will have questions about the team’s performance and inability to put away a visiting Palancas Negras side that was not expected to put up much of a fight.

Egypt could have been down 1-0 just after two minutes but were fortunate to escape when a poor clearance led to a crossing opportunity for veteran Angolan attacker Fredy. The 31-year-old collected out wide and drove in a low cross that Egyptian center back Ahmed Hegazy attempted to clear, but his diving header fell right to Vá, who took his time from 6 yards out before inexplicably firing wide of Mohamed El Shenawy’s goal.

So often a miss on a golden opportunity can lead to a goal on the other end, and sure enough Egypt capitalized on Angola’s wastefulness only a minute later. Zamalek player Ahmed El Fotouh was sent running down the left flank into the Angolan penalty area where Palancas Negras center back and captain Bastos clumsily plowed into the Egypt player, resulting in a penalty kick. Afsha made no mistake and put his spot kick beyond Hugo Marques for the opening goal.

It appeared that Afsha’s early goal would propel the hosts to run away with the three points, but that was not nearly the case. Only a couple of minutes later, Angola had a brilliant chance to equalize when Vá took off on an adventurous run before his heavy touch set up forward Fabio Abreu for a shooting opportunity, but he could not get his foot around the ball to direct the shot on target.

Egypt made it to halftime with the 1-0 lead, and after the break they controlled the match more and kept the threat level from Angola low. A free header from a corner kick with 15 minutes left to play was the closest Egypt got to doubling their lead, but Marques was quick to react. Angola had a few set piece opportunities but the Egyptian defense held tight and El Shenawy was clinical in handling aerial balls into his penalty area.

With the win Egypt are tied with neighbors Libya at the top of Group F with Gabon and Angola trailing. Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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