Egypt qualified for the knockout stage of the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday, putting an end to the tournament’s recent run of surprise outcomes.
Egypt defeated Sudan 1-0 in their last Group D match at Yaounde, securing a spot in the round of 16 after finishing second in the group behind Nigeria.
On 35 minutes, defender Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home a corner following relentless pressure from Egypt.
In the other group game, Nigeria defeated Guinea-Bissau 2-0, having already qualified for the last 16 as group winners.
Nigeria won the group stage with three wins with to goals from Umar Sadiq and William Troost-Ekong. Interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who rushed off the bench and flung his arms in the air, was overjoyed by the goals.
Eguavoen is scheduled to step down as coach following the African Cup, but there may be appeals for him to stay if Nigeria continues to win with him as coach.
Egypt’s nerves would have been jangling after witnessing the demise of several of its past champions in Cameroon.
Algeria was defeated 1-0 by Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, a result that appeared set to be the shock of the tournament until Ghana’s jaw-dropping elimination on Tuesday at the hands of tournament newcomer and tiny island nation Comoros.
Egypt had underperformed in Cameroon, losing to Nigeria and then squeezing past Guinea-Bissau in its second group game, courtesy of Mohamed Salah’s goal and a controversially disallowed late equalizer by Guinea-Bissau.
Egypt is still not operating at peak speed, but there were some encouraging indications versus Sudan.
Sudan goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa denied both Mostafa Mohamed and Abdallah Said in the first half.
Salah was one of Egypt’s best.
Salah displayed some of his greatest technique of the tournament as he wove past defenders and unleashed a low shot that Ali Abu Eshrein, who replaced Mustafa, saved.
Salah also provided the assist for Amr el-goal. Solia’s El-Solia blasted his attempt past the crossbar.
Because the two countries are neighbors, the game is somewhat of a derby. However, they fall short of recent successes. Egypt has won the African Cup seven times in total, whereas Sudan won the trophy in 1970 but has advanced beyond the group stage only once in the 52 years afterwards.
Egypt – and Liverpool – were given a scare when Salah collapsed holding his leg following a tackle by Sudan defender Mazin Mohamedein with his studs up. Egypt’s captain, on the other hand, arose and completed the game.
Cape Verde and Malawi both qualified as the first two of four best third-place teams as a consequence of Wednesday’s results. Malawi has reached the African Cup knockout stages for the first time.
The last two groups will be determined on Thursday, when Algeria, who are now bottom of Group E, must defeat Ivory Coast to escape an early exit and a poor defense of their championship.
Ghana’s Ministry of Sports has convened an emergency meeting of the Ghana Football Association’s leadership on Friday to discuss the team’s “abysmal performance” at the African Cup.
Ghana, a former World Cup quarterfinalist, failed to win a game in Cameroon, its lowest finish in 59 years of African Cup competition.