Egypt head coach Rui Vitoria has expressed confidence that the Pharaohs are still in the race despite a shaky start in the AFCON 2023.
unexpected 2-2 draw with Mozambique in their opening Group B match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Abidjan on Sunday was attributed by coach Rui Vitoria to a momentary loss of focus. Mohamed Salah saved their blushes with a late penalty.
Seven minutes into stoppage time, the Liverpool star scored from the penalty spot to help Egypt avoid losing to Mozambique for the first time ever.
Mozambique had fallen behind to a goal from Mostafa Mohamed in the second minute but rallied with two goals in as many minutes in the second half.
“We lost concentration for three minutes, but we are still in the race to qualify; nothing is lost,” Vitoria told beIN Sports.
Despite Mohamed’s excellent turn-and-shoot goal to open the score for Nantes, Egypt never really got going.
Mozambique were not disturbed at the back in the first half, save for a shot by Mahmoud Trezeguet that went wide of the post.
Salah, who was mostly used as a deep-lying attacker rather than a right winger, was likewise quiet as Mozambique looked energetic up front, outmuscling Egypt’s weak midfield time and time again and exposing their defensive sides.
Mohamed claimed that Egypt’s vitality had been diminished by the humidity in the Ivorian capital. Mohamed made his Nations Cup debut in the previous edition in Cameroon.
“The weather in Africa is different; humidity is high and the concentration drops,” he said.
“The best thing is that we learn early, so we know our mistakes before the crucial rounds, like the quarter-finals or the round of 16.”
Egypt’s next matchup is against key rivals Ghana on Thursday, and on January 22, they play their last group stage match against Cape Verde.
“Each match has a different situation; the teams may not be at their best on a given day, but we have to prepare well for the match against Ghana,” Portuguese boss Vitoria added.