Egypt sorely missed the injured captain Mohamed Salah as they suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat by Ethiopia in Thursday’s Africa Cup of Nations 2023 (AFCON) qualifiers.
Overexertion closed the prolific Liverpool goalscorer after defying his club and playing in a win against Guinea last Sunday despite not being fully fit.
Egypt was missing several other first-election injured, It was however, expected them to pick up maximum Group D points against opponents 108 places down in the world rankings in neutral Malawi.
But the speedy Ethiopian strikers repeatedly disrupted a slow Egyptian defense in the first half and Goals from Dawa Hotessa and captain Shemeles Bekele gave them a two-goal advantage at half-time.
Egypt had more possession in the second half from a place that conceded around was badly cut up at times by torrential rain before the game.
Ethiopia had to play in Lilongwe because, like 16 other countries taking part in the qualifiers, it does not have a stadium of international standard.
< p>Coach Ehab Galal has only been in charge of Egypt for two games after Portuguese Carlos Queiroz failed to agree on a contract extension.
Galal, who left Cairo club Pyramids to take charge of the Pharaohs, is now going strong come under pressure as a year of disappointments continues for Egypt.
They lost the last Cup of Nations final to Senegal on penalties in February and a month later he suffered a similar fate against the same side in a play-off to decide who goes to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
Egypt needed 87 minutes to score the goal that defeated Guinea in the opening round of 2023 Cup of Nations qualifiers and the loss to Ethiopia left them bottom of the table.
The only consolation for Galal and his side is that the other sides in the section – Ethiopia, Malawi and Guinea – have also won and lost , so each side has three points.
Guinea missed it late to beat Malawi 1-0 in Conakry, with Salah’s Liverpool team-mate Naby Keita scoring in added time.< /p>
Nigeria ended a five-game winless streak by beating Sierra Leone 2-1 in a Group A match played behind closed doors in Abuja in a World Cup play-off against crowd problems Ghana.
All goals came before half-time as Jonathan Morsay gave the Leone Stars an early lead, Alex Iwobi equalized and Victor Osimhen scored to prove the game winner after 41 minutes.
Guinea-Bissau leads Nigeria on goal difference after beating Sao Tome e Principe in d he defeated the Moroccan city of Agadir 5-1, while Belgium’s Zinho Gano scored a brace in the space of eight minutes.
The brilliance of South Africa captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams couldn’t stop the Morocco, who are moving to Qatar, won a top-flight Group K tie 2-1 in Rabat.
It was the first game for both sides in a group reduced to three by Zimbabwe’s suspension for interference of the government and Ayoub el Kaabi won with a great volley in the 87th minute.
The other World Cup qualifiers Cameroon also narrowly won, beating brave minnows by Burundi 1-0 in Tanzania by goal by Karl Toko Ekambi.
Minnows Lesotho exceeded expectations b In cold Soweto, they won 0-0 against a team from Ivory Coast, which was filled with European stars.
The Ivorians qualify automatically become the host f For 2023, but are competing in Group H to gain competitive practice.
< p>With that, rivals Comoros, Lesotho and Zambia are all vying for a place in the finals, and Zambia’s Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) are on the mind -to-head in second place.
Mali scored two 10-man goals in stoppage time to defeat South Sudan 3-1 and take a three-point lead over Congo Brazzaville in Group G and Gambia.