Web Stories Saturday, February 24

ABIDJAN : Egypt coach Rui Vitoria blamed a brief lack of concentration for his side’s surprise 2-2 draw with Mozambique in their opening Group B game of the Africa Cup of Nations in Abidjan on Sunday, with Mohamed Salah sparing their blushes with a late penalty.

The Liverpool talisman converted the spot-kick seven minutes into stoppage time to help Egypt avoid their first ever loss to Mozambique, who had fallen behind to a second-minute strike from Mostafa Mohamed but roared back with two quick-fire goals in the second half.  

“We lost concentration for three minutes, but we are still in the race to qualify; nothing is lost,” Vitoria told beIN Sports.  

Although Nantes striker Mohamed opened the scoring with a fine shot on the turn, Egypt never really clicked into gear.

Apart from a Mahmoud Trezeguet effort that hit the outside of the post, Mozambique were barely troubled at the back in the first half. 

Salah, who was deployed as a deep-lying forward rather than a right winger for the most part, was also subdued while Mozambique looked lively going forward, repeatedly outmuscling Egypt’s feeble midfield and exposing their defensive flanks.  

Mohamed, who opened his Nations Cup account after making his tournament debut in the previous edition in Cameroon, said humidity in the Ivorian capital had sapped Egypt’s energy.   

“The weather in Africa is different; humidity is high and the concentration drops,” he said. “The best thing is that we learn early, so we know our mistakes before the crucial rounds, like the quarter-finals or the round of 16.” 

Egypt next face main challengers Ghana on Thursday before concluding their group stage campaign against Cape Verde on Jan. 22.  

“Each match has a different situation; the teams may not be at their best on a given day, but we have to prepare well for the match against Ghana,” Portuguese boss Vitoria added.  

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