Ghana brought an end to what was a disappointing 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Russia-bound Egypt at the Cape Coast Stadium on Sunday.
In what was a mere formality with the Pharaohs having already booked their return to the world stage for the first time since 1990, goals from Mahmoud ‘Shikabala’ Abdelrazek and Edwin Gyasi ensured that the two African giants share the spoils.
Egypt accumulated 13 points from their six qualifying matches to end top, with Ghana having accumulated seven points from their allotted fixtures to finish third behind both the north African’s and Uganda.
Back in the Black Stars fold, Mubarak Wakaso was eager to impress and showcased his intent with an early pop at goal. Sherif Ekramy, though, was well positioned to easily deal with the midfielder’s powerful effort from range in the fifth minute.
It was turning into a two-man battle between Wakaso and Ekramy with the latter tested from distance once more 10 minutes later. The Pharaohs goal-minder was up to the task, pouncing on the ball after spilling the initial effort.
Raphael Dwamena then squandered a glorious chance to give the Black Stars the lead in the 21st minute. The forward failing to provide the finishing touches to a defence-splitting pass by Opoku Ampomah as the hosts ramped up the pressure.
Ampomah looked a real live-wire, but the Black Stars would suffer a blow as the midfielder was forced off the field before halftime, with what looked a broken nose.
The Pharaohs finally registered a shot on target in the 43rd minute, with Richard Ofori doing well to keep out Mahmoud ‘Trezequet’ Ibrahim’s rasping effort from an acute angle.
Ghana, though, would end the opening stanza on top with a flurry of chances before the break, but without reward as the two teams headed for the tunnel deadlocked.
Egypt came out firing following the interval and were only denied an opener due to the heroics of Richard Ofori. The goal-minder came up with an excellent diving save to keep out Shikabala, whose left-footed rocket looked destined for the back of the net.
Shikabala duly opened the scoring for the visitors in the 61st minute with an unstoppable shot. Trezequet teeing up the playmaker who gave the Ghanaian goal-minder little chance, in what was a carbon copy of the opportunity he had moments earlier.
The North African’s lead, though, would last but three minutes with the Black Stars finding an almost immediate response.
Gyasi’s powerful effort deflected off the unlucky Aly Gabr before whistling past Ekramy, who could only watch on as the ball flew into the back of the net.
Ghana looked the more likely to grab all three points in the closing stages and had a glorious chance to do so with the final kick of the game. But Daniel Amartey failed to force the ball home from close range after Richmond Yiadom’s shot was parried by Ekramy.
The two teams had to settle for a point apiece in the end, as Egypt now turn their focus to preparing for Russia.
Ghana: R.Ofori, Afful, Angenyenu, Nuhu, Amartey, Wakaso, Gyasi, E.Ofori, Dwamena (Yiadom 74′), Donsah (Waris 50′), Ampomah (Twumasi 41′).
Egypt: Ekramy, Gabr, Elmohamady, Rabiea (Samir 33′), Moursy, Abdelrazek (Elsaeyd 65′), Marei (Gamal 76′), Sobhi, Hafez, Elneny, Ibrahim.