Egypt booted out of African Cup of Nations
Defending champion and seven-time winner Egypt has failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations for the first time in more than 30 years after a 2-1 loss in Sierra Leone on Saturday.
A goal from Sheriff Suma in the 14th minute and an 89th-minute penalty by Mohamed Bangura made sure of the Pharaohs’ elimination.
Egypt had to win to have any chance of reaching next year’s tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Egypt slumped to its third loss in five matches in qualifying, sealing its place at the bottom of its group no matter what happens in the final round of matches.
Even if it had won, Egypt still needed an unlikely set of results to keep alive any hope of defending the African Cup in 2012.
Mohsen Maruwan equalized in the 45th minute for Egypt, but Bangura’s last-minute spot-kick ended a troubled effort to qualify from the Pharaohs, who were also distracted by political upheaval at home during crucial stages of their campaign.
Egypt failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations — which it has won more times than any other country — for the first time since 1978. It withdrew from the 1982 tournament in Libya.
As expected, the three-time defending African champion fielded many under-23 internationals in Freetown alongside senior squad captain Ahmed Hassan, who played his 176th international to close in on the all-time record of 178 caps held by Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al Deayea. Stand-in coach Hani Ramzy took charge of Egypt for the first time after Hassan Shehata parted company with the team in June.
With its second straight victory, Sierra Leone moved level with group leader South Africa and revived its own hopes of qualifying for the African championship.
South Africa plays in Niger in the other Group G match on Sunday.