LIVE: Gabon v Egypt | WORLD CUP 2022 QUALIFICATION
21:00 Cairo local time | 15:00 ET Canada-USA
Venue: Stade de Franceville
Referee: Bakary Gassama (Gambia)
Egypt will be able to unleash their most lethal weapon against Gabon as Mohamed Salah flew directly to Franceville to take part in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier after missing the opening Group F clash against Angola.
COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in the UK, which places Egypt on its red list, meant Salah was not able to join up with the national team as they hosted Angola in Cairo on Wednesday.
The Pharaohs still got the job done with a 1-0 victory, thanks to an early penalty from Ahly playmaker Magdi Afsha, but they sorely missed the spark and efficiency of Salah.
Egypt struggled to create clear-cut chances against Angola, with lone striker Mohamed Sherif often isolated and three attacking midfielders lacking imagination.
Salah will now regain his place on the right flank, which was occupied by Zamalek’s Ahmed Zizo against Angola, with coach Hossam El-Badry unlikely to make further changes to the side that played on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Salah is second in Egypt’s list of all-time top scorers with 45 goals, 31 goals behind iconic striker Hossam Hassan.
Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny was not as lucky as he was ruled out of the Gabon clash after picking up an injury during a training session with his English Premier League club.
Egypt will be eager to continue their winning start and send out a statement of intent to stamp their authority in a group that also includes Libya.
They are level on three points with the fellow North African side, who came from behind to defeat Gabon 2-1 in their opening qualifier. The group winners will advance to a final two-legged playoff for a place in the 2022 Qatar finals.
El-Badry admitted Egypt needed to up their game against Gabon after a below-par display against Angola.
“In the coming games, things will get better. I’m not yet satisfied with our display but what mattered most tonight is that we got a victory,” he said following the hard-fought victory over Angola.
Egypt won their only three duels with Gabon. Their last meeting was a 2004 friendly that Egypt won 2-0.
The seven-time African champions, who are seeking to reach the World Cup for a second consecutive time, will miss Pyramids FC winger Ramadan Sobhi after he broke a finger following his second-half introduction against Angola.
Ahly’s right-back Akram Tawfik is also out due to a facial injury.
FT: Gabon 1-1 Egypt | WORLD CUP 2022 QUALIFICATION