GAROUA: Mohamed Salah squeezed a volley under the goalkeeper to give a nervous Egypt a 1-0 win over tiny Guinea-Bissau, who were denied maybe their biggest result at the African Cup of Nations on Saturday when they had a brilliant late equaliser contentiously disallowed after a VAR check.
Salah’s breakthrough came in the 69th minute after the record seven-time African champions laboured to break down Guinea-Bissau. But the Liverpool forward’s smart finish with his left foot from a tight angle wasn’t nearly the most dramatic moment of the game.
Guinea-Bissau forward Mama Balde weaved in from the left wing and unleashed a shot that flew into the far corner of the net with eight minutes to go to seemingly stun Egypt, and the entire tournament in Cameroon.
But after a long delay, referee Pacifique Ndabihawenimana of Burundi went over to consult VAR and Balde’s superb strike was ruled out for grappling defender Omar Kamal to the ground.
The victory revived Egypt’s Group ‘D’ campaign after they lost their opening game to Nigeria 1-0. But it was not the convincing reaction Egypt fans demanded and there was increasing pressure on coach Carlos Queiroz, the former Real Madrid boss.
In stark contrast to Egypt’s struggles, group rivals Nigeria eased into the knockout stages earlier with a comfortable 3-1 win over Sudan.
Nigeria lead the group on six points while Egypt are second with three points and now need only draw their last group game against neighbours Sudan in Yaounde on Wednesday to guarantee safe passage to the last 16.
Nigeria became the third team through to the last 16 after hosts Cameroon and Morocco.
Samuel Chukwueze slotted home from close range in the third minute against Sudan, Taiwo Awoniyi made it 2-0 right on halftime, and Moses Simon scored the third in the first minute of the second half when he tucked the ball in from a tight angle on the left.
The Sudanese did get on the scoresheet in the 70th from a penalty by Walieldin Khidir, but there were never really any signs that a Sudan comeback might be possible.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022