Mohamed Salah overcomes injury scare as Egypt book place in Afcon last 16

Egypt defender Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home a corner on 35 minutes to see off Sudan 1-0

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Egypt avoided the fate that befell fellow continental giants Ghana by securing their place in the knockout round of the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 with victory over Sudan.

A 1-0 win in their final Group D game in Yaounde confirmed Egypt's place in the round of 16 after qualifying behind Nigeria.

Defender Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home a corner on 35 minutes after a period of sustained pressure from Egypt.

Nigeria topped the group thanks to a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau in the other group game having already punched their ticket to the last 16.

Second-half goals from Umar Sadiq and William Troost-Ekong maintained the Super Eagles perfect run at Afcon. The goals delighted interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who jumped off the bench and threw his arms in the air.

Eguavoen is due to give up the coaching duties after the tournament but there might just be calls for the former Africa Cup-winning captain to stay if Nigeria keep go all the way.

Egypt would no doubt have had nerves jangling after seeing the fate of some of fellow former champions in Cameroon.

Defending champions Algeria was beaten 1-0 by Equatorial Guinea on Sunday in a result that seemed certain to be the shock of the tournament until four-time winner Ghana’s jaw-dropping elimination at the hands of tournament debutant and tiny island nation Comoros on Tuesday.

Egypt had underwhelmed in the group phase, losing to Nigeria and then only scraping past Guinea-Bissau thanks to Mohamed Salah’s goal and a brilliant late equaliser by Guinea-Bissau being contentiously disallowed.

There were signs of improvement against Sudan, but coach Carlos Queiroz knows his team will need to find another gear if the Pharaohs are to add to their record seven Afcon titles.

Mostafa Mohamed and Abdallah Said were both denied by Sudan goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa in the first half.

Salah showed some of his best skill this tournament as he weaved past defenders and let off a low shot that was saved by Ali Abu Eshrein, who came on in place of Mustafa.

Salah also set up Amr el-Solia in front of goal. El-Solia blazed his shot over.

There was a scare for Egypt — and Liverpool — when Salah went down clutching his leg after Sudan defender Mazin Mohamedein crunched into him with his studs raised in a tackle.

Egypt’s captain got up and finished the game, though.

The two results on Wednesday also meant Cape Verde and Malawi qualified as the first two of four best third-place teams. It’s the first time Malawi has reached the knockouts at the African Cup.

The final two groups will be decided on Thursday, when Algeria, bottom of Group E, needs to win against Ivory Coast to avoid early elimination and a feeble defence of its title.

As for Ghana, the country’s Ministry of Sports has summoned the Ghana Football Association leadership for an emergency meeting on Friday over what it called the team’s “abysmal performance” in Cameroon.

Ghana, once a World Cup quarter-finalist, failed to win a game in Cameroon, the country's worst return in 59 years of playing at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 3:08 AM