By Salma Abdullah
Egypt claimed a 4-2 victory over Zimbabwe on Sunday, bringing them one step closer to the final stage of 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Veteran footballer Mohamed Abu Trika scored the opening goal when he received a low cross pass from Mohamed Salah, giving Egypt the lead within the first five minutes.
A blunder by Zamalek’s defender Mahmoud Fathallah allowed Zimbabwe striker Knowledge Musana to score an equaliser in the 22nd minute, but Salah was able to restore Egypt’s lead near half time after controlling a long pass from goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy and placing it into the net.
The 20-year-old Salah missed a number of opportunities to double the score in the second half. But at 77 minutes off a pass from Abu Trika, Salah went one on one with the Zimbabwe keeper and knocked it in at the bottom corner of the net.
At 82 minutes, Ekrami allowed Zimbabwe’s Billiat Khama’s header in from between his hands, reducing Egypt’s lead to one. But striker Mohamed Salah killed off Zimbabwe’s hopes two minutes later when he scored his third goal after following a perfect cross from Abu Trika.
“We haven’t qualified to the final round yet; we still have two remaining matches,” Bob Bradley, the Pharaohs coach said in a brief press conference following the match.
He applauded the performance of Mohamed Salah during the match, saying: “He represents the future of Egyptian football. He will play an important role in guiding us to the World Cup finals,” Bradley said.
The Pharaohs lead group G with maximum 12 points, 5 points ahead of Guinea with two games to go. This result means Egypt needs only one win from their remaining matches to secure a place at the two-stage playoffs.
Egypt, which hasn’t been to the World Cup since 1990, will face Mozambique on 16 June in the semi-final stage of the qualification round.