Kudus makes mark for Ghana in Egypt draw

The Black Stars will play Mozambique next in their last Group B match on Monday

A double by Mohammed Kudus on his comeback from injury was unable to earn Ghana victory in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Egypt as their winless run increased to five matches, severely hindering their hopes of progressing to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) knockout phase.

Ghana’s shock defeat to Cape Verde on Sunday meant that three points were paramount for them in Abidjan if they were to avoid an extremely nervy final Group B encounter against Mozambique, but Black Stars hearts may have been in mouths when Omar Marmoush went over in the box, only for penalty appeals to be waved away by referee Pierre Atcho.

Things took a turn for the worse for Egypt in first-half stoppage time as captain Mohamed Salah, who had struggled to influence proceedings, went off with a muscle injury, to be replaced by Mostafa Fathi.

And no sooner had that happened than Kudus received a pass 25 yards from goal, shifted the ball away from Marmoush and lashed in superbly to give Mohamed El Shenawy no chance.

In suffocating humidity, the Pharaohs had a sizeable task on their hands to turn things around, but thought they had equalised just after the break when Marmoush’s delivery was ultimately converted by Mohamed Abdelmonem. The offside flag came to Ghana’s rescue, though, with VAR confirming the decision.

Marmoush then tried his luck from a distance – stinging the palms of Richard Ofori – but Egypt were unable to trouble him regularly and could have gone 2-0 down had Antoine Semenyo been more clinical on the counterattack.

With roughly a quarter of the game remaining, Rui Vitoria threw on former Aston Villa attacker Trézéguet for Mohamed Elneny, but it was Marmoush, a threat all match, who pounced on an awful backpass by Iñaki Williams, rounding Ofori and tucking home with aplomb.

Incredibly, Kudus was found in space just moments later and beat El Shenawy again, via a deflection this time off the unfortunate Abdelmonem. However, more defensive madness saw Osman Bukari, just on as a substitute, inexplicably dribble back towards his own goal and get dispossessed by Trézéguet, who cut the ball back for Mostafa Mohamed to stab in.

That was how things stayed, leaving Cape Verde still leading the group ahead of their second game of the tournament against Mozambique on Friday. Egypt face the table toppers next Monday, with Ghana playing Mozambique the same day.

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