Egypt have become the latest team to secure a place at the next Africa Cup of Nations, after they played out a 1-1 draw away to Kenya in a Group G qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi on Thursday evening.
The Pharaohs put in a below-par performance against a Harambee Stars side which ended the game with 10 men, but the result is nonetheless enough to guarantee the seven-time AFCON champions a berth at Cameroon 2022. The East Africans, meanwhile, have been mathematically eliminated.
Egypt got off to a flying start, claiming the lead in just the second minute. Attacking midfielder Mohamed Magdi swept home a pull-back from Mohamed Hani, with Mostafa Mohamed playing a clever dummy to open space for the shot.
Kenya responded well to going behind, with Michael Olunga testing out Mohamed El Shenawi in the eighth minute after latching onto a poor back pass from Tarek Hamed, but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.
The Harambee Stars had further spurned chances for Olunga and Anthony Akumu inside the opening quarter of the game, while the Pharaohs had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when Mahmoud Trezeguet was chopped down in the 18-yard area.
On the half hour mark the North African had a major scare when a sliced attempt at a clearance from Mahmoud Hamdi almost found the back of his own net, while 10 minutes later the hosts had a goal controversially disallowed, with Masud Juma adjudged to have handled the ball in the process of skipping past Hani and firing home.
A goal down at the break, Kenya nearly levelled early on in the second half when Olunga hit the side netting from a rebound, while the other end of the field saw Mostafa Mohamed and Mohamed Salah both spurn fine chances within six minutes of the restart.
The Harambee Stars continued to threaten an equaliser and a goal duly arrived in the 65th minute: Abdallah Hassan slotted home from close range after a messy scramble in the penalty area which saw the Pharaohs miss out on several chances to clear the danger.
Kenya had momentum on their side and on 75 minutes missed out on a great chance to claim the lead for the first time when Egypt committed another defensive blunder, but shortly thereafter the home side were reduced to 10 men when defender Johnstone Omurwa was red carded for elbowing Motsafa Mohamed.
That incident knocked Kenya back and allowed Egypt to assume control of the game with their superior numbers, ultimately holding out for a draw to confirm their appearance at the next Nations Cup finals.
The teams will return to Group G action on Monday, 29 March, with Egypt at home to Comoros and Kenya visiting Togo.
Kenya (0) 1 (Hassan 65’)
Egypt (1) 1 (Magdi 2’)
Kenya: I. Otieno, Sakari, Ouma, Omurwa, Onyango, Akumu (Abuya 55’), Muguna, L. Juma (Nyakeya 68’ [Alambi 80’]), Hassan (Miheso 68’), M. Juma, Olunga
Egypt: El Shennawi, Mansour, Hamdi, Hegazi, Hani, Hamed (Sherif 62’), Fathi (Gaber 72’), Trezeguet (El Sulaya 62’), Magdi (Farouk 88’), Salah, Mohamed (Hassan 88’)