Mali and Egypt played out a goalless yet fairly energetic 0-0 draw in the eighth game of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Mali were the superior side and Egypt held out for a draw in the end, the second 0-0 of the tournament.
Many concerns must be levied at the pitch at the surface (especially on the right-hand half of the pitch), which looked rather worse for wear. It was a definite cause of the game not being too entertaining. The game showed potential but the pitch smothered any of that potential.
Egypt started strongly with Mohsen missing from a tight angle. It was all Mali for the rest of the first half though as Lassana Coulibaly failed to connect on two occasions in which he had glorious headed opportunities.
In the second half, Egypt probably had the chance of the match. Trezeguet’s wonderful cross picked out Mohsen whose high, headed effort was tipped over the bar.
This was the only promise Egypt showed for the rest of the game though. Mohammed Salah who really failed to live up to expectations was brought off and the side settled for the draw.
Mali were more adventurous though. They pressed hard for an equaliser and the best chance fell to Ousmane Coulibaly who failed to score from four yards out with his head.
In the end, both had to settle for the solitary point. Egypt will need to attack a bit more if they want to beat a competitive Uganda. While Mali will probably be satisfied in a point against Ghana unlike today.
Egypt went on the attack early on. El Said played an excellent throughball to Mohsen in the centre of the area. The striker was tightly marked, however, but managed to shake off his marker with a glorious first touch. It brought him to a one-on-one situation with Sissoko but he couldn’t put it home from the tight angle.
Mali’s Marega had a good opportunity. A long ball was played into him and the striker ran into the box. He only had Gabr to beat in the area and the two tangled with both of them going down. The referee waved play on and the ball trickled out.
Mali nearly scored 12 minutes in. Marega played a fantastic in-swinger into the box. It could have been knocked in from 6 yards by Lassana Coulibaly but he jumped too early. The ball still caused lots of trouble for Egypt though. The cross was on target which only came to Shenawy’s realisation very late on as he palmed it behind as it nearly went in off the inside of the post.
There was a change in goalkeepers for Egypt El Hadary came on for El Shenawi. The latter picked up a hamstring injury but it is not apparent when he picked it up.
Lassana Coulibaly mistimed another header towards the tail end of the half. Sako made a marvellous cross from the left and Coulibaly came flying in with his head only to completely miss the cross.
The first half ended 0-0. A decent first half, the best one so far in Group C or D. The playing surface did compromise the two sides though and no doubt had an affect on them.
Egypt got the first chance of the second half and it was a very good one. Trezeguet was the architect. A run down the left ended in a deft cross into the box for Mohsen to run onto. Mohsen connected well and his header was tipped over the bar by Sissoko.
Mali made the first tactical substitution of the game with Bissouma on for Yatabare.
Mohammed Salah picked up the first booking of the game for a nasty studs-up tackle on Mali’s captain Sylla.
Salah was intriguingly brought off for Ramadan in Egypt’s first tactical change of the game.
Mali made their second substitution with Sow on for Lassana Coulibaly.
Hassan was brought on for Mohsen in Egypt’s final substitution.
Ousmane Coulibaly missed a header from four yards out to put Mali ahead. Bissouma flicked on a delivery from a free-kick for Coulibaly. Trezeguet put him under lots of pressure and forced him to head well over the bar.
Sow nearly played a brilliant ball to give Sylla a clear shot at goal. Sow played a straight throughball to Sylla to run onto on the right of the box. Sylla was only just beaten to it by El Hadary.
Samba Sow was booked for Mali for a handball inside the Egyptian box. Sow attempted to emulate Maradona by attempting to beat El Hadara to a corner.
Ahmed Fathi was the next to go into the referee’s book for a stiff-arm on Sako.
The game ended at a disappointing 0-0, Mali definitely the better side. Unfortunate to see yet another poor display of football from Group C and D after A and B’s spectacles.