Egypt thumped Comoros 4-0 at Cairo International Stadium on Monday to claim top spot in Group G.
Both countries had already qualified for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) before the match, making the encounter in Cairo a mere formality, but for the Pharaohs it was the type of performance they had been searching for throughout the qualifying campaign.
But in the greater scheme of things, Les Coelacantes wouldn’t mind too much about the final score after a history-making campaign. The volcanic archipelago off Africa’s east coast will participate in their maiden Afcon tournament next year, having punched their ticket with a 0-0 stalemate at home to Togo in Moroni last week.
As for Egypt, they will compete at a 25th Afcon tournament where they will be setting their sights on a record-extending eighth title.
All four goals in Cairo on Monday came within the opening half hour and within the space of 10 devastating minutes.
Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny is no stranger to a long-range thunderbolt and found the top corner with 15 minutes on the clock, to open the scoring in the Egyptian capital.
Mohamed Sherif doubled the hosts’ lead four minutes later with a close range finish before Mohamed Salah joined the fun. Scorer turned provider as Sherif teed up the Liverpool winger who completed his brace moments later after being set up by Mohamed Magdy Afsha.
The goal moved Salah up to 43 international goals for Egypt and second on the all-time list, behind only Hossam Hassan.
Victory moved the unbeaten Pharaohs up to 12 points in the group, three clear of Comoros and ahead of third-placed Kenya who beat Togo 2-1 in Lome at the same time to finish ahead of the Sparrowhawks, who failed to win a single match in their allotted fixtures.
The top two nations in each group advance to the 24-team finals hosted in Cameroon next year.
Egypt (4) 4 (Elneny 15′ Sherif 17′ Salah 21′ 25′)
Comoros (0) 0
Egypt: El Shenawy (Genesh 46′); Gomaa, Hamdi, Gabr, Gaber, Elneny, El Soulia (Hamed 71′), Magdy Afsha (Hassan 78′), Trezeguet (Farouk 60′), Salah, Sherif (Ibrahim 60′).
Comoros: Ahamada; B.Youssouf (Ahamada 46′), M’Dahoma, Abdou, Bakari, Abdullah (Mogni 84′), Bachirou (Bourhane 63′), M’Changama, Chamed (Mattoir 46′), Selemanie, M’Changama (I.Youssouf 46′).