AFCON2023: In a gripping battle under the lights at the Stade Félix-Houphouët-Boigny, the Black Stars of Ghana were tantalizingly close to a triumphant victory, only to be thwarted by the resilient Pharaohs of Egypt, settling for a heart-pounding 2-2 draw on a Thursday evening in Abidjan.
As the tension soared, the stage was set for a mesmerizing showdown. West Ham sensation Mohammed Kudus, triumphantly returning from injury, orchestrated a sensational performance, leaving fans in awe with a dazzling brace. His first goal, a mesmerizing solo effort, saw him glide past a sea of Egyptian defenders before unleashing a thunderous long-range strike, perfectly timed to the halftime whistle. A momentary glimpse of vulnerability appeared for Egypt as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah hobbled off the field, seemingly diminishing their attacking prowess.
While Egypt initially dominated possession, they struggled to trouble the formidable Ghanaian goalkeeper, Richard Ofori. Majeed Ashimeru came closest to breaking the deadlock, launching a swift counter-attack that found Antoine Semenyo, only to be thwarted by the heroic efforts of Egyptian keeper Ahmed Elshenawi.
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Rui Vitoria’s tactical plan to exploit Ghana’s fullbacks ultimately faltered, with Jordan Ayew and Iñaki Williams providing resolute defensive support and Salis Abdul Samed making crucial covering runs. Egypt’s ageing midfield found it increasingly challenging to contain the dynamic duo of Ashimeru and Kudus.
The second half witnessed Egypt’s relentless pursuit of an equalizer. A contentious goal by Abdelmonem, stemming from a Hegazi cross, was disallowed following a VAR review, intensifying the drama. Omar Marmoush came agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock himself, embarking on a thrilling solo run that culminated in a shot well saved.
Yet, Ghana remained a formidable threat on the counter, with Semenyo squandering a golden one-on-one opportunity against Hegazy. The match exploded into life with a flurry of goals, as Marmoush capitalized on a rare lapse by Williams, converting an open net opportunity. However, Kudus swiftly retaliated, latching onto a pass from Odoi and elegantly curling in a low shot for his second goal of the night.
Regrettably, Ghana’s fortunes took a bitter turn as another defensive error, this time by substitute Osman Bukari, gifted Egypt an equalizer. Bukari’s loss of possession paved the way for Mahmoud Trezeguet’s assist, allowing Mostafa Mohamed to find the back of the net for the second time in as many games. Despite Egypt’s late surge, Ghana bravely held on for a draw, a result that left fans with mixed emotions, given their twice-held lead. The Stade Félix-Houphouët-Boigny had witnessed a spectacle of unwavering determination, showcasing the raw emotions of the beautiful game.
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