Egyptian veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary wrote a new chapter in history when he became the oldest ever player to take part in the African Cup of Nations, but he was not to celebrate ads the Pharaohs were held to a goalless draw by a determined Mali side.
The second match of the Group D-day one doubleheader produced no winner as both sides shared the spoils.
Starting from the bench, it appeared El-Hadary would have to wait for another day to etch his name in the Africa Cup of Nations folklore, but after 23 minutes, he replaced injured Ahmed El Shenawy to become the oldest ever player to take part in AFCON at the age of 44 years and 2 days.
The game started on a quick note, and Egypt’s Marwan Mohsen had the first chance after four minutes. The Al Ahly forward reacted faster to a Mohamed Salah pass, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Mali almost responded when Lassana Coulibaly soared above the Egyptian defenders, but his header was saved El Shenawy. But the save turned out to be costly as the latter injured himself in the process and was forced to leave the field, making way for history maker El Hadary.
Mali was the better side for the rest of the first half, with Coulibaly and Moussa Marega being their most dangerous men. Egypt’s best chance fell to Mohamed El Neny, who saw his shot going just over the bar.
Egypt resumed stronger, and once again it was Mohsen who had the first chance eight minutes after the break. Winger Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan paced through his markers, and his cross found Mohsen’s header, but for Mali’s goalkeeper Oumar Sissoko who fully stretched to save the ball.
The game saw no more real chances for both sides, as Mali tried to clinch a late winner but without much success.
Ghana leads the pack of Group D with three points having defeated Uganda with a lone goal earlier. Egypt and Mali follow with one point each with Uganda at the bottom pointless.
Total Man of the Match
Moussa Marega (Mali)
Hector Cuper (Head Coach, Egypt)
It was a very difficult game. We tried to control the ball in the first half but we suffered because of the Malians physical players. We were better in the second half but at the end, my players were very tired because the weather was very humid. It was my wish to win the game. We always try to win all our games. The next two matches will be more difficult, but we will do our best to win both.
I still don’t know how serious Ahmed El Shenawy’s injury is. I believe it’s getting complicated because our third goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy is also injured. But we will see tomorrow and assess the situation.
Alain Giresse (Head Coach, Mali)
We hoped to do better and win the match, but we couldn’t. I believe we will be better in the next match. Egypt is a big team and not an easy team to play against, but we did our best and I’m satisfied. We know it is a difficult group and we will do our best against our next opponents. This is our first match and we played to win. When you don’t win you must not lose either.