Egypt qualifies for 2018 World Cup

Egypt's Mohamed Salah vies for the ball against Congo's Tobias Badila during the World Cup 2018 Africa qualifying match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg el-Arab stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, on Sunday, October 8, 2017. (AFP / TAREK ABDEL HAMID)
Updated 09 October 2017

Egypt qualifies for 2018 World Cup

JEDDAH: After a 28-year absence, Egypt will be back in the World Cup finals next year in Russia with a 2-1 victory over winless Congo at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria Sunday night. Mohamed Salah played a whale of a game for Egypt, scoring twice including a last-gasp penalty to send the Pharaohs to their first World Cup finals since 1990.
Salah scored the game-winning spot kick with a minute left to the five-minute added time. He earlier put Egypt on the scoresheet with a goal on 66 minutes. Substitute Arnold scored the equalizer for Congo on 88 minutes after outfoxing El-Hadary from inside the area.
Egypt joins Nigeria as the Africa teams to qualify thus far for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. Both Egypt and Nigeria qualified from Group B and Group E respectively with a game to spare.
With the win at home, Egypt collected 12 points from five matches to guarantee itself top spot in their group while eliminating Uganda from the race. Uganda is on 8 points from five matches.

Only one ticket to Russia 2018 is up for grabs in each of the five groups in the African qualifying competition.
The desperation to qualify was so great ahead of the Congo match that Argentina-born Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted he was taking medication for high blood pressure, according to an AFP report.
"I am taking hypertension medicine due to the stress I suffer from continuing criticism," he told reporters without specifying who his critics were.
"Life is full of stress, but the challenge of reaching the World Cup is the toughest stress I have faced."
Egypt also beat Congo away and Ghana and Uganda at home to accumulate 12 points, with the only loss away to Uganda.


Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

Updated 31 October 2020

Real Madrid aim to put crisis behind them

MADRID:  Real Madrid will be hoping to leave their sticky patch behind them when they play Huesca in La Liga on Saturday, with an early six-point lead to preserve over Barcelona.

The resignation of Barca’s club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overshadowed what has been a dramatic week for Madrid, who barely salvaged a 2-2 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-0 with three minutes left, Madrid were facing a defeat that would have squandered the momentum gained from last weekend’s Clasico win at Camp Nou.

A late double from Karim Benzema and Casemiro ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side snatched a draw that felt like a win but to consolidate that positivity, they cannot afford another slip this weekend.

“The team is what it has shown, it’s about a reaction,” said Zidane. “The first half was very good, we played well. The pity is we conceded the first goal, but we continued to think it was possible, even at 2-0.

“That showed the character of the team and I’m very proud of them. We are not happy because we want to win, but we must be happy with the performance.”

Madrid play a Huesca side that is yet to win this season, as they followed four consecutive draws with a 4-1 loss away at league leaders Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Zidane could also hand Eden Hazard his first start since August, after the Belgian came off the bench in midweek.

That was Hazard’s first appearance of the season as he tries to overcome his latest injury setback, which the club have only described as a muscle injury.

“It’s good. I’m here to play football,” said Hazard on Wednesday. “After two or three months off the pitch, I’m so happy. I just want to play football, that’s why I’m here.”

On the last-gasp draw in Germany, Hazard said: “We showed great character, to be 2-0 down with five minutes to play, I think we could have scored one more, I could have scored one more, but I missed. It’s not three points but it feels like a victory.”

Zidane was determined to give Hazard time to recover fully and he believes the club will have to be cautious.

“He’s just started playing. It is his first game after a long time away,” said Zidane. “The plan was for him to try to play but little by little is what we have to do.”

A Madrid victory against Huesca could send them back to the top of the table, above Real Sociedad who are the only team to have retained top spot in consecutive rounds so far this term.

Real Sociedad play away at Celta Vigo on Sunday, just before third-placed Granada host Levante and struggling Valencia play at home to Getafe.

If Atletico Madrid win their two games in hand they will go top, with Diego Simeone’s side away at Osasuna on Saturday.

Barcelona, who beat Juventus on Wednesday, also have two games in hand but are seven points off the lead. Their new era without Bartomeu begins in La Liga away at Alaves on Saturday night.