16 October 2018

Africa: Dream Over for Eswatini As Tunisia, Egypt Go Through

Tunisia and Egypt have wrapped up Group J slots for next year's final tournament after victories in Day Four matches on Tuesday.

The Carthage Eagles recorded a 2-1 win over Niger in Niamey to maintain their unbeaten run.

The Pharaohs on the other hand sealed their place on the wings of a 2-0 win over Eswatini away in Mavuso. Goals by Ahmed Hegazi and Marwan Mohsen in the 19th and 53rd minutes respectively pushed the Anthony Mdluli coached Sihlangu to yet another qualifiers dead end with two matches to spare.

Tunisia leads the group with 12 points with Egypt three points behind with two matches to play giving both an unassailable gap over Niger and Eswatini who both stuck on a point each.

The match had gotten off to a slow start before the visitors came out of their shells mounting sporadic raids into the initially well-organized home back line but that resilience only last 19 minutes and just like in the 1-4 defeat in Cairo, Eswatini's frailty to corner kicks came to the fore.

Goalkeeper, Sandanezwe Mathabela and his cluster of midfielders were reduced to spectators as Hegazi outjumped them to head in the opener and from that onset the visitors stole control of the tie and it was just a matter of just when more goals would hit the avalanche levels.

But alas it was never to be a goal haul with Egypt literally having to opt for other goal routes and eventually the second and final arrived eight minutes from the breather when Mohsen rounded off two home defenders leaving them as a mere lost ball in tall grass before curling in a half volley beyond an outstretched Mathabela.

Interim coach, Mdluli remains hopeful of keeping his the job outlining his possible approach to the next round of qualifiers.

"We need to keep our team together and active and focus on the next qualifiers. Despites pockets of brilliances in some of the matches it was not to be for us but we take both the positives and negatives from these qualifiers as lessons to build on," said Mdluli.

Egypt Javier Aguirre poured out some respect for his opponents.

"They might lowly ranked but there is potential within their ranks but experience had to count for us. We needed an early qualification and this result makes it possible for us. I am glad the absence of Mo Salah was not felt that much," said Aguirre.


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