CAIRO: Title holders Egypt have fired a 17-goal warning to South Africa ahead of a crucial 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier during March.
The Pharaohs won the first Nile Basin Cup tournament with a 3-1 win over Uganda Monday after hitting the net 14 times in four matches en route to the Cairo climax.
Striker Sayed Hamdi scored in each half against the Cranes at the Military Academy Stadium in the Egyptian capital and arch predator Mohamed ‘Geddo’ Nagy added a third before Caesar Okhuti struck a consolation goal.
National squad fringe player Hamdi finished leading tournament scorer with six goals after Egypt hit Tanzania and Kenya for five, Uganda and Burundi for three and pipped Uganda by a solitary goal in a pool match.
Success in a seven-nation tournament that included the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan was a timely boost for record seven-time Nations Cup winners Egypt ahead of four qualifiers this year.
The Pharaohs are bottom of their elimination group after two rounds with just one point compared to the four of 1996 champions South Africa, three of Niger and two of Sierra Leone.
Forced to come from behind in a 1-1 Cairo draw against Sierra Leone last September, Egypt suffered one of their most embarrassing losses a month later when falling 1-0 in Niger.
Another defeat in late March at a South African venue to be announced would all but end hopes of a record fourth consecutive title for the North African football powerhouse.
Egypt will draw hope from the fact that they were in a similar perilous situation during the 2010 qualifiers after drawing with Zambia and losing to Algeria before winning four matches on the trot to top the pool.
Uganda, much improved under Scottish coach Bobby Williamson as they seek a first appearance at the Nations Cup since finishing 1978 runners-up, were punished in the final for failing to deal with crosses.
Hamdi was among three Egyptians queuing to score the opening goal off a Samir Farag cross and there were plenty of red shirts in the penalty box when he diverted a Geddo cross into the net for the second goal.
Geddo made it 3-0 by stabbing the ball home from close range after former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Hossam Ghaly headed a corner into his path and Okhuti converted a late spot kick.
Egypt have another warm-up match scheduled for Feb. 9 when they host the United States in Cairo seeking revenge for a 3-0 FIFA Confederations Cup drubbing in South African town Rustenburg two years ago.
South Africa, who did not qualify for the last two Nations Cup tournaments, host Burkina Faso the same day in what will probably be their only friendly before tackling the Pharaohs.
DR Congo finished third in the Nile Basin Cup with a 1-0 victory over Kenya and Sudan claimed fifth place by defeating Tanzania 2-0 through early second-half goals from Haytham Mostafa and Alaa Yousif.