CAIRO: A last-gasp strike by Ahmed Al-Muhammadi earned Egypt a 1-1 home draw with Ivory Coast in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games qualifiers to salvage the Pharaohs’ hopes of reaching the group stage.
Sekou Cisse put the visitors ahead in the first-half before substitute Al-Muhammadi secured a precious draw for Egypt in stoppage time.
Egypt must win away from home in the second-leg late in March or draw with a result larger than 1-1 if they are to advance to the qualifiers’ group stage.
Although Egypt concluded their preparations for the clash by winning the International Friendship Tournament in Qatar, they were largely disappointing throughout the game.
Egypt keeper Amir Tawfik was called into action after 18 minutes when he blocked two successive efforts from an Ivorian forward.
Striker Mohamed Ragab almost put the home side ahead two minutes later after he danced his way past Ivory Coast s defenders but his low shot was blocked by the keeper.
Cisse Stunned the home crowd in the 22nd minute when he ghosted behind Egypt s defenders and latched on to a through pass before easily rounding the keeper and slotting into the empty net.
Egypt then pushed forward searching for the equalizer but lacked the cutting edge in front of goal.
Ragab connected with Ahmed Ghanem s inch-perfect cross to head the ball over the bar while Abdullah Al-Saied’s shot from close range was collected by the keeper.
Egypt squandered a host of chances in the second period, with the most dangerous opportunity coming through Al-Saied one minute past the hour mark.
The Ismaili midfielder curled a superb free-kick that cannoned off the bar.
In the additional time, Al-Saied sidestepped a defender in the left flank before providing a pinpoint cross to ENPPI striker Al-Muhammadi who headed the ball home.