February 1, 2023
Great Expectations
February 27, 2023


By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (February 26th 2023)

Dust Settling on Catastrophic Loss

Egyptian football is waking up to another footballing catastrophe. Ever since the Port Said tragedy, fans throughout this historic country have been excluded from domestic football. This has had an effect as the atmosphere at matches in the country is sombre to the point of being funereal. Even the best club teams, Al Ahly, Zamalek, Pyramids et al, pay a price –young players, especially.

The CAF Champions League, Confederations Cup and forthcoming Super League are affected too. These competitions are not confined to Egyptian clubs and their fans, meaning that clubs from other countries cannot be punished with the absence of their fans, so Egyptian fans were admitted for these matches too. That applied to international football too. Has this played some part in what has happened?

Egyptian fans have not taken to the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (U-20 AFCON) at all. Egypt’s U-20 team came into the tournament having won the Arab Cup for their age group. Expectations were said to be high.


But the performances disappointed. They drew their opening fixture 0-0 against Mozambique – a team they must have expected to beat –on February 19th. Meanwhile, Nigeria, their next opponents, plummeted to the bottom of the group (A), losing both a man, Ahmed Abdullah, and the match 1-0 – Souleymane Faye netted the first goal of the tournament.

Again, this was an opportunity. Again it was squandered as profligate finishing was punished with a smash and grab by Nigeria. Solomon Agbalaka’s goal sent the crowd home despondent as Egypt was now in big trouble. Sénégal took Mozambique apart, 3-0. Pape Amadou Diallo gave them the lead as the first half was ending. Less than ten minutes into the second-half Pape Demba Diop doubled their lead and Diallo completed his brace after 85 minutes, which sent Mozambique to the bottom of Group A on February 22nd.

Sénégal had already qualified for the Quarter-finals after just two matches, and done so with aplomb. Only Nigeria could deny them top spot, but all they had to do was avoid defeat. They did that emphatically yesterday at Egypt’s expense, meaning if Nigeria wasn’t beaten they would accompany Sénégal into the knockout stages. They did so by beating Mozambique 2-0 –Samson Lawal opened the scoring after just over half an hour. Less than 5 minutes before the break Ibrahim Beji Muhammad doubled their lead. Egypt totally capitulated to Sénégal by conceding four in the second half after a goalless first half – a hat-trick by Man of the Match and current top-scorer in the tournament with 4, Pape Demba Diop (59, 73 and 76) and Ibou Sané (69).

The Group table was completed. Sénégal topped the group with maximum points with a goal-difference of +8 – having conceded none. Nigeria had conceded just one, but had a vastly inferior goal difference of just +2. Mozambique and Egypt shared a ‘rotten’ wooden spoon, having lost all three matches without having scored and having conceded five. It was an abysmal performance by the hosts that cost coach, Mahmoud Gaber, and his assistants their jobs. Gaber chose not to face journalists. He left it to his assistant, Karam Morsi to confirm that this was the end for the current team and technical staff as they had failed to meet their targets –badly.

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