Half-time: Egypt 2-0 Uganda
It’s been an exhilarating half, and the scoreline doesn’t tell the story well. Because Uganda were the better side for most of it, their speed and enterprise seriously troubling the hosts. But the Pharaohs look to be heading to the top of the group thanks to a fine freekick by Salah and a nice goal on the break by Elmohamady, who now has four goals in his last eight matches for his country. Uganda have shown enough attacking quality to suggest this game is not quite done; and the good news is they are likely to secure second spot in the group even if they lose, because DR Congo are leading 2-0 against Zimbabwe in the other game in this group. Stay tuned!
GOAL! Egypt 2-0 Uganda (Elmohamady 45+1)
Trezeguet charges down the left and crosses low. It’s fractionally beyond Salah, but Elmohamady retrieves at the right-hand side of the box and lashes a crisp low shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards!
43 min: Kyambadde bothers Egypt again with his searing pace, and then releases Abdu, running in to the right-hand side of the box. Abdu’s shot is weak but El-Shenawy decides against trying to catch it and instead pushes it out for a corner.
42 min: Salah scoots down the right but fails to deliver a useful cross.
40 min: Emad slides in to disposses Kyambadde on half-way. He won the ball but send the forward flying. One of the most satisfying things a defender can do, but many refs frown upon that these days.
GOAL! Zimbabwe 0-2 DR Congo. Bakambu has increased the Leopards’ lead and that, at least, is good news for Uganda, who’ll go through in second spot if the scores remain the same.
38 min: Trezeguet takes a brilliant pass by Elneny on his chest and then swivels and opens fire from 16 yards, bringing a difficult save from Onyango.
GOAL! Egypt 1-0 Uganda (Salah 36)
Salah brings the stadium to eruption with a freekick freekick from 25 yards, curled over the wall and beyond a slightly sluggish dive by Onyango. Uganda had been the more dangerous team until then, but the hosts have the lead.
34 min: Abdu scorches past El Mohamady down the left and cuts into the box. He fires off a shot from a difficult angle. The keeper pushes it up into the air, a defender heads it weakly, and Abdu jumps up to head towards goal again. Saved by El-Shenawy.
32 min: Uganda don’t put the goalkeeper under pressure from the corner, and it’s cleared out to Trezeguet, who romps down the left on the counter-attack! Uganda scramble well and shut down the danger. They’re very pesky opponents, as Egypt are finding.
31 min: The irrepressible Kyambadde fires off a swirling drive from 25 yards. El-Shenawy looks in trouble but manages just about to bat it over the bar! He then fell backwards into the net and appears to have injured himself. But after a bit of treatment he says he can play on. Uganda should plant the corner right on top of him now …
29 min: Nifty work by Kyambadde down the left, swapping passes with Walusimbi before lashing a nice shot goalward from the corner of the box. El-Sehnawy has to make another save. He’s been by far the busier of the keepers.
27 min: El Said flight a corner towards the back post. Onyango paws it away from the head of Hegazi.
Egypt substitution: Mohsen on, Hassan off, that injury seemingly being insurmountable after all.
24 min: Miya goes for a goal from the freekick, and misses by a long way.
22 min: Aucho launches another swift Uganda counter-attack with a well-aimed pass from deep. Ashraf brings down Kyambadde, conceding a freekick near the left-hand corner of the Egypitan box. Danger here …
20 min: After a splash with the magic sponge, Hassan is back on his feet, which will please our man Will Unwin, who wrote this about him.
19 min: Hassan gets clattered by Aucho and the ball squirts through to Salah, who’s one-on-one with the keeper. But the referee pulls him back to give Egypt the freekick. “Thanks ref!” think Uganda fans everywhere.
16 min: The whole crowd jump to their feet in giddy anticipation as Salah runs on to a ball over the top. The defender keeps pace with him, so Salah tries to eliminate him with a one-two, but the return ball from Emad is overhit.
14 min: Superb play by Miya in midfield, cruising away from two players before threading a pass through for Okwi to chase. The striker duly gets to the ball first and cracks off a decent shot from a difficult angle, forcing a save from El-Shenawy.
12 min: Egypt are not enjoying this. Uganda are looking lively, quicker to the ball and full of attacking intent.
10 min: Lumalu is down receiving treatment after copping the ball in his face as he charged down a kick by the goalkeeper.
8 min: Uganda are proving quite the irritant to the hosts. They’re fast to launch attacks and have forced a couple of corners in the last two minutes, though both were cleared easily at the near post.
GOAL! Zimbabwe 0-1 DR Congo. Bolingi has given the Leopards the lead in the other game in this group. If that screline stays the same, Uganda will seal second place in the group, at least, no matter what happens here.
6 min: Miya’s corner is cleared at the near post. But Uganda win it back and work it wide to Miya again on the right. he cuts inside and unloads a good shot from the corner of the box. It bounces just in front of El-Shenawy, who holds well.
5 min: Trezeguet continues his fine tournament with a barnstorming run down the left. He makes it into the box before going down under a strong and legitimate tackle. The crowd howl for a penalty but won’t get their wish.
3 min: Salah has begun wide on the right again but is taking every opportunity to dart towards the centre, where Hassan is the main targetman.
1 min: Off we go. Egypt begin stroking the ball around confidently but almost come a cropper when Okwi nearly nicks the ball off Hegazi. but the defender recovers.
A draw will be enough for Egypt to secure top spot in the group, which would be important because it would give them an easier Last 16 tie and enable them to continue playing in Cairo, where the atmosphere for the hosts’ matches is immense.
Here’s Nick Ames with details of the controversy polluting the buildup to this match for Egypt.
Here are the lineups for the other game in this group, where both teams need to win to prolong their tournament, although even that may not be enough for DR Congo.
Zimbabwe: Chigova; Darikwa, Mhlanga, Hadebe, Pfumbidzai; Munetsi, Phiri, Karuru; Chaeapiwa, Musona, Billiat
DR Congo: Matampi; Issama, Mbemba, Tisserand, Ngonda; Akolo, Mulumbu, Moke, Maghoma; Bolingi, Bakambu
Those lineups don’t suggest that Egypt are easing up just because they’re guaranteed a place in the next round. They want to win this group, which is wise: because finishing top will set up a last-16 meeting with one of the third-placed finishers, whereas the runners-up in this group are likely to meet Senegal. Uganda will be keen to avoid that, too, but they’ve decided to rest Kaddu and Lwanga, two of their best players in the tournament so far. But the excellent Farouk Miya will still be pulling the strings in midfield.
Egypt: El-Shenawy; Elmohamady, Hegazy, El Mohamady, Ashray; Emad, Elneny; Salah, Said, Trezeguet; Hassan
Subs: R El-Shenawy, Gaber, Ghazal, Hamed, Mohsen, Soliman Said, Mansour, Kamel, Hamdi, Alaa
Uganda: Onyango; Wadada, Awany, Wasswa, Waluismbi; Miya, Azira, Aucho; Abdu, Okwi, Kyambadde
Subs: Odongkara, Ochaya, Mugabi, Lwanga, Kaddu, Kizito, Nsibambi, Mukiibi, Kateregga, Magoola, Muleme
Referee: M Ndiaye (Senegal)
“If Madagascar can do it, why can’t we?” A comment to that effect is sure to be made in the Uganda dressing room before this one, and it’s well-founded. The Cranes have played well in the tournament so far – with invention and cohesion – and are capable of downing the Pharaohs and nicking top spot in the group if Salah & Co are not on song. Egypt are already into the next round but son’t be taking this lightly, not with over 70,000 home fans demanding victory. In the pre-match press conference captain Ahmed Elmohamady even went so far as to say: “I promise the fans to lift the Afcon title.” It’s on!