CAIRO: Debutant Ahmed Ali scored twice as Egypt cruised to an easy 6-3 victory over DR Congo in a friendly game at a near-empty Cairo Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite committing some defensive errors that gifted Congo three goals from Diba Ilunga and Matumona Zola (two), Egypt produced a ruthless attacking display to brush aside the visitors.
Ismaili striker Ali, who replaced the injured Amr Zaki, enjoyed a debut to remember and Ahli’s new man Geddo seemed to have finally put his transfer dispute behind him after both men excelled in the first day of Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan.
Ali notched a brace while Geddo scored and dished out two assists to help Egypt, who are ranked ninth in the world, to their first friendly victory since their Nations Cup triumph in Angola, having lost 3-1 to England in March.
Ahmed Hassan, Ahmed Fathi and Mohamed Abou-Trika were also on the scoresheet to give coach Hassan Shehata a convincing win before the seven-time African champions begin their 2012 Nations Cup qualifiers next month.
Very few fans attended the game at the 74,100-seat Cairo Stadium, with the majority of Egyptian people preferring to sit at home and watch Ramadan’s trademark TV series and entertaining shows.
Shehata handed goalkeeper Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed a surprise start at the expense of his Zamalek teammate Essam Al-Hadari, amid some recent tension between the duo.
Ali, a constant menace to opposing defenders in the first half, needed three minutes to open the scoring when he powered in a header from an Abou-Trika corner.
Although Egypt remained in firm control after taking an expected lead, DR Congo leveled the score on 16 minutes after capitalizing on a defensive lapse and a poor save from keeper Al-Sayed.
Egypt’s defenders were caught napping and Al-Sayed could only parry a harmless low shot into the path of the unmarked Ilunga, who slotted into an empty net.
But the Pharaohs, who had a strong penalty claim waved away by the referee, were barely affected by Congo’s goal, launching a wave of attacks and wasting some clear-cut chances en route to Ali’s second goal on 32 minutes.
The combative striker latched onto a deft through pass from Geddo and fired a low shot from the edge of the area that left the keeper with no chance.
Defensive midfielder Ahmed Fathi scored a rare goal with a powerful low drive in the 41st minute to extend the gap and Abou-Trika added the fourth just before the break after a superb individual effort.
The Ahly playmaker collected a Geddo pass, jinked inside the area and bamboozled his challenger with a neat feint before lobbing the keeper.
Host of Changes
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata made a host of changes at halftime, giving chance to some fringe players such as Ismaili midfielder Ahmed Khairi and Harras Hodoud striker Ahmed Mekki to prove their worth.
Zamalek keeper Al-Hadari was also introduced instead of club teammate Al-Sayed. Both men were involved in a heated exchange lately over who should be Zamalek’s first-choice guardian.
Skipper Hassan, one of the players to come on in the second half, notched Egypt’s fifth four minutes after the restart with a simple tap in after a low cross from Sunderland right-back Ahmed Al-Muhammadi.
DR Congo narrowed the gap to four goals in the 53rd minute when Al-Hadari failed to deal with Zola’s back-post shot from inside the area as he could only push it into his own net.
Egypt restored their five-goal cushion in the 66th minute after Geddo made the most of another cross from the lively Al-Muhammadi.
DR Congo netted a consolation two minutes later when Zola sent Al-Hadari the wrong way from the spot after defender Wael Gomaa pushed a Congolese forward.