Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 6
Egypt advance in pomp and noisy circumstance to the last 16 as Uganda continue their improvement.
That’s why Egypt play at 10pm
Just like on the opening day, Egypt’s second match of the tournament was at 2200. And just like in the first match, fans were urged to come early. On Day 1, they were treated to a sight-and-sound spectacular of a 30 minute opening ceremony celebrating the billion years of Egyptian culture. On Day 6, the early birds were regaled with Uganda v Zimbabwe playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw. The non-partisans sang and cheered and made a raucous din to baste themselves for the main event: Egypt v Democratic Republic of Congo.
There’s no business like Mo business
And that main event kept the locals most moist because Egypt won for the second time and qualified for the knockout stages. Essentially, there are goals. AND THERE ARE GOALS. During the match, it was a case of the latter. Ahmed El Mohamady’s first for Egypt in the 25th minute was greeted with joy and craziness. But when Mo Salah opened his account just before half-time, it was transcendent rapture. It wasn’t particularly spectacular. Salah's was a good finish past the goalkeeper Ley Matampi after he was set up by Trézéguet’s through ball. But the explosion of delirium was wonderful to behold. If Salah scores a last minute winner in the final, it will go tectonic
Food for thought
The daily review was forced to rethink its entire life package after bumping into the Zimbabwe team chefs. We spent some time with them as they rustled up nourishment for the Warriors – that’s the nickname for the national team. We dipped into sadza, beef and chicken. And went away gurgling with contentment. We are now going to dabble with the space/time continuum and reemerge as a Zimbabwe football international.
Well out of Warda
So farewell Amr Warda. He'll have more time to spend on his phone after he was sent away from the Egypt camp for what has been deemed dodgy behavior. The 25-year-old fell foul of team authorities after it was revealed he had allegedly been hassling several young women on social media. He was expelled, said the head of the Egyptian Football Federation, Hani Abu Reda, in order to maintain the state of discipline, commitment and concentration.
Uganda are progressing
Uganda haven’t been in the knockout stages since 1978. In that tournament they were beaen finalists. They are not considered one of the contenders for the title this year. But with four points after two games, they are on the cusp of advancing to the last 16. This is a huge improvement on their last outing two years ago where, under coach Milutin Sredojevic, they showed signs of promise but were undone by moments of inexperience and left after the first round of matches. Ten of that 2017 squad are in the current set-up including skipper Denis Onyango who is leading them to what could well be their best performance in a couple of generations.