A hard-earned 1-0 victory ensured passage into the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) last 16 for Egypt, with Mohamed Abdelmonem’s 35th minute header sinking a resilient Sudan and extending a run of eight unbeaten matchday three fixtures at AFCON to nine.
Given that Sudan were without a win in any of their previous 11 competitive matches and had lost 5-0 to Egypt as recently as December in the Arab Cup, the underdogs faced a mountainous uphill battle to cause an upset.
Egypt dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes, but Burhan Tia’s side remained well-drilled, keeping a narrow shape and tackling with physicality to keep out any early goals.
Egypt seemed to target Sudan’s defending at the front post on several occasions, sending in fast crosses to cause a panic.
Sudan struggled immensely to read the game aerially and Mostafa Mohamed almost capitalised from a corner after half an hour, seeing his free header saved smartly by Mohamed Mustafa.
They made it 1-0 from the resulting corner, however, when Abdelmonem knocked in yet another free header. Sudan weren’t entirely deterred at HT, however, and had positives to work with if they could move the ball with greater composure.
Sudan were dealt a huge blow ahead of the second half, with goalkeeper Mustafa forced off due to an injury he had initially tried to play through.
The ‘Falcons of Jediane’ started the half brightly, but lacked enough quality and cohesion to sustain their attacks.
The ‘Pharaohs’ were comfortable out of possession, understandable from a side who haven’t conceded more than 1 goal in a game since November, and were able to move the ball into attacking areas much quicker than their opponents.
Mohamed Salah’s impact had been limited to set piece deliveries, but came close when he latched onto a loose ball, only for his effort to be saved.
Energy levels faded as the game came to a close and while Sudan put in a valiant effort, Egypt’s quality showed as they advanced from the group stages in positive fashion.