African powerhouse Egypt cruised into the quarter-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup with a dominating 5-0 win over Sudan at Stadium 974 in Ras Abu Aboud Saturday.
After Egypt had laboured to a 1-0 win over Lebanon in their opener, Carlos Queiroz’s men put on a statement with a ruthless performance against nine-man Sudan.
The Pharaohs with six points sealed their spot in the last eight along with Algeria, with both sides meeting in the final Group D game on Tuesday to determine who will advance as leaders.
Ahmed Refaat (4’), Ahmed Zizo (13’ penalty), Mahmoud El-Wensh (31’), Hussein Faisal (57’) and Mohamed Sherif 78 scored as Egypt put on an improved performance.
Egypt, who like other teams in the tournament are in Qatar without most of their European-based players including Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, were under pressure after lacklustre show against Lebanon – where then needed a second-half penalty from Magdi Afsha to down their unfancied opponents.
Coach Queiroz once again experimented with his line-up, fielding some new faces and deploying other established players in unfamiliar positions, such as Ahly's natural defender Ayman Ashraf who played in the heart of midfield. Faisal was handed a surprise start, while Refaat played on the left and Zizo on the right.
But it didn’t take long for Egypt to find their first goal with a sublime finish from Refaat. In only his third international appearance, the Future FC winger produced a brilliant left-foot volley into the top corner from the edge of the area. His brilliant volley came after his free-kick was cleared by the Sudan defence but only to fall once again into his path.
Egypt doubled their lead in the 13th minute after Amr El-Sulaya brought down Omar Kamal, with Zizo’s powerful penalty beating the outstretched hands of Sudan goalkeeper Ali Aboeshren. After a couple of close chances, Egypt took a commanding three-nil lead in the 31st minute.
Hussein Faisal dribbled past a couple of Sudanese before pulling the ball back to El-Wensh, who slotted the ball into the net. Sudan’s misery piled on just before half-time when Yasir Mozamil was sent off for a reckless challenge on Ayman Ashraf. And it got worse after the interval with Faris Abdallah receiving his second yellow card as Sudan plunged to nine-man.
After that there was no way back for Sudan as Egypt raided their goal at regular intervals. In the 57th minute, Faisal made his debut a memorable one by tapping into an empty net after Aboeshren clumsy clearance off a header from Marwan Hamdi.
In the 72nd minute, Hamdi thought he had scored himself but his goal was ruled out for offside. Six minutes later, however, Egypt got their fifth after Sherif punished keeper Aboeshren for coming out quickly of the goal-line as he headed home a pass from Magdi Afsha.
Now Egypt turn their attention to the final group game against North African rivals Algeria, with goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy saying they will treat it as an early final. The winner of the next game will top the group and will face the second of Group C, which consists of first-placed Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine.
“We came here to win the Arab Cup. We played with the same spirit and performance as we did in the first game against Lebanon, but we wasted a lot of chances; however, today we scored five goals,” El-Shennawy said.
“We are a team that plays in the name of Egypt, no matter which players participate, everyone will show their best. Today there were many changes in the starting XI and we performed well. Algeria is a strong team and we respect them as they respect us. We are eyeing the win against Algeria as it’s considered an early final due to the strength of the two teams, but in the end, it’s a three-point for which team will finish top of the group,” he added.