Saturday, June 2, 2012
For no one
The second stage of African World Cup Qualifying kicked off Friday with Ghana pounding Lesotho 7-0.
Of more concern to Americans though, Bob Bradley's Egypt beat Mozambique 2-0 in Alexandria. They played in an empty stadium after training in Lebanon ahead of the match.
I was able to catch a little bit of the match, including the first goal, and Bradley's stamp on the team was evident. They played a tidy, but simple possession game when they could while mixing in the odd long and/or diagonal ball. In defense, the team was clearly well-drilled in keeping its shape, winning the numbers battles and letting their superior talent do the rest.
Mozambique weren't half bad, but they weren't all that good either. The visitors would have fit in in CONCACAF just fine though they'd be lucky to make the Hex if this match was any indication. The game-winning goal came after Mozambique failed to clear a corner, Egypt knocked the ball around the outside of the area before an early-range cross was spilled by the keeper, Kapango, for Mahmoud Fathallah to scissor home from point-blank range. Apparently, Kapango also put one into his own net less than 10 minutes later to end the scoring.
Bradley's team continues Group G play next Thursday when it travels to Zimbabwe. Only the winners of each of the 10 groups in CAF qualifying advance to the final playoff stage. Guinea, who narrowly missed out on the knockout rounds at this year's African Cup of Nations, look likely to be Egypt's chief rivals for that coveted spot.
The Pharaohs have not played in the World Cup Finals since 1990 where they were narrowly eliminated in one of the tightest groups ever. So it's pretty easy to picture Bradley telling FIFA.com the following:
"Our goal, our mission is to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This is something that drives all of us -- players, coaches and supporters."
- Jacob Klinger