Egypt in a group with Gabon, Libya, Angola in 2022 World Cup qualifiers
Egypt landed a tricky draw for the group phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers as they were thrown into Group F along with Gabon, Libya and Angola on Tuesday.
Although the Pharaohs would be relieved to avoid facing Cote d’Ivoire, the highest profile national team in pot 2, they will still have to negotiate some tough games as they bid to qualify for the World Cup for the second straight time.
Egypt made the last of their three appearances at the 2018 finals in Russia, where they bowed out in embarrassing fashion after losing all their group stage games against Uruguay, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“I think it’s a good draw,” Mohamed Barakat, the assistant of Egypt’s boss Hossam El-Badry, told beIN Sports after the draw was made in Cairo.
“We were worried about the prospect of facing some strong teams in pot 2 like Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and South Africa, who have big experience.
“But the fact that we avoided them is good,” added the 2005 BBC African Player of the Year, who was also part of Egypt’s 2006 Nations Cup winning squad.
Egypt famously beat Angola 2-1 in a last-eight clash at the 2008 Nations Cup before going on to win the tournament. Both sides also met twice in the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, with Egypt winning one and drawing the other.
The record seven-time African champions won all their three encounters against Gabon, including one competitive game at the 1994 Nations Cup.
Against Libya, Egypt won 13 out of 21 meetings, with three draws and five loses. Their last game saw Egypt beat their North African neighbours 2-0 in a friendly game in 2016.
“It will be good for us that Libya usually play their home games away,” Barakat added, referring to the political turmoil in the country.
“But anyway, if we are at our best we will never be worried of any game.”
Many fans would doubt Barakat’s confident assertion as Egypt have been struggling since their World Cup fiasco, which led to the departure of canny boss Hector Cup.
The Argentinean’s successor, Javier Aguirre, was also blamed for another embarrassment as Egypt were eliminated from the Nations Cup on home soil following a stunning last-16 defeat by South Africa last year.
El-Badry’s tenure also got off to a disappointing start, with the team settling for surprise draws with minnows Kenya and Comoros in their opening two matches of the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers.
Only the 10 group winners of the World Cup qualifiers would advance to a final two-legged playoff to determine Africa’s five representatives at the 2022 finals in Qatar.