Egypt friendly crucial experience for Stars- Amunike

15Jun 2019
Joseph Mchekadona
DAR
The Guardian
Egypt friendly crucial experience for Stars- Amunike

TAIFA Stars head coach, Emmanuel Amunike, disclosed the friendly match pitting his side against Egypt was a vital opportunity for the former to gain experience as they prepare to compete in the AFCON finals, set to kick off next week.

Taifa Stars left fullback Gadiel Michael (L) shoots past Egypt player during a friendly match, which was played in Alexandria on Thursday. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TFF

The East African side put up a splendid fight against Egypt in the friendly match, played at Borg Al Arab Stadium in Alexandria, which ended with the hosts winning 1-0.

 

Amunike conceded his squad took on stronger opponents but the former managed to put stiff opposition to the latter and created chances, which were though wasted.

“It was an interesting match, I think we played a squad that is very good, very tough. The good thing is we were able to put stiff opposition, we created some chances but we weren’t able to take them,” he added.

“For me, it is a big experience playing Egypt national team and what matters for us to go back and look at our mistakes and see how we can correct them before our next match, but it is a very interesting game.”

The match was part of the two squads’ preparations for the AFCON finals which gets underway in Egypt next week.

Egypt, who are coached by Javier Aguirre, played without their marksman, Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, are the record seven times AFCON champions.

The hosts midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady, who plays for English club Aston Villa, drilled in the all-important goal for the former on the 65th minute.

The midfielder connected well a cross whipped in by Ahmed Mansour.

In the previous four encounters between the two sides, Taifa Stars have never won any game.

Taifa Stars’ captain, Mbwana Samatta, said after the game the results is a wake-up call to his side and insisted he believes that the technical panel has observed the team’s weakness and will work on it before the finals.

"This was a good test to us, I am sure the coach and his technical staff has seen where to improve before the finals next week," Samatta was reported in the press.

The senior national team that is in Group C of the continental showdown alongside Senegal, Algeria and Kenya, will play their final friendly match against Zimbabwe tomorrow.

In a match, monitored on a local TV channel, Taifa Stars coach Emmanuel Amunike opted for a 4-4-2 formation and had Aishi Manula manning the post. Defenders were Hassan Ramadhan, Aggrey Morris, Kelvin Yondani and Gadiel Michael.

In the midfield, the coach trusted Simon Msuva, Feisal Salum, John Bocco and Himid Mao and strikers were Mbwana Samatta and Farid Mussa.

The hosts enjoyed possession in the first half but Taifa Stars had also good share of possession.

In the first half, Taifa Stars tried to penetrate into the host side but failed to find the goal as the Egyptians were very solid.

There were some good individual performances from Mbwana Samatta and Farid Mussa but the efforts were fruitless.

The Pharaohs, as Egypt are fondly known, came closer to scoring on the 21st minute of the first half but keeper Manula, who commanded the goal post with agility, was very alert.

The teams went into recess without finding the back of each other’s net.

Taifa Stars completely lost steam after recess as they resolved to defending, which worked to the advantage of the aggressive and more direct Egypt, who upped the tempo of their play and broke Stars rhythm of attack.

Amunike substituted John Bocco for Thomas Ulimwengu on the 62nd minute, and after the substitution Egypt penetrated into Taifa Stars’ defense and lapse in concentration by Stars players saw Elmohamady score with a header.

The hosts were still dominating Taifa Stars half and, sensing danger, Amunike reacted by making substitution on the 74th minute by bringing in Ally Mtoni for Aggrey Morris.

Four minutes later, the Nigeria tactician rested Farid Mussa for left fullback Mohamed Hussein.

Pharaohs were making constant threats to Stars goal but Manula was always preventing the hosts from increasing the lead as he made a string of saves.

During the game, four of Taifa Stars players, Kelvin Yondani, Himid Mao, John Bocco and Thomas Ulimwengu, were shown yellow card against two bookings to Egypt players Ayman Elsembeskany and Amr Warda.

Before the game, Amunike told the media that playing against Egypt is perfect as it will help him evaluate his side before the finals.

"Egypt are a big side in African football. Playing with them will help me and my squad assess the team before the AFCON finals," he said.