DR Congo eliminated Egypt from the AFCON following a penalty shootout.SAN PEDRO: DR Congo defeated record seven-time winners Egypt 8-7 in a penalty shootout on Sunday, sending the team out of the Africa Cup of Nations despite the absence of star player Mohamed Salah due to injury.
In San-Pedro, goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scored the winning penalty kick after Mohamed Abou Gabal, the other goalie, had seen his kick miss the mark and sail over. Meschack Elia scored for the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 37 minutes, and Mostafa Mohamed equalized in first-half added time with a penalty kick, capping an intense last-16 match that ended 1-1 after extra time.
After suffering an injury during a group match against Ghana, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah went back to his team, who informed him that he would likely only be allowed to return to the competition if Egypt advanced to the final. Guinea, who narrowly defeated Equatorial Guinea 1-0 earlier on Sunday, will play DR Congo on Friday in Abidjan in an attempt to advance to the semi-finals.
Despite having combined for nine Cup of Nations victories, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were unable to secure a single win in this month’s Ivory Coast group stage. They had identical records of three draws and three points, finishing runners-up in their mini-leagues to Cape Verde and Morocco, respectively.
The number of goals scored was where they diverged, with DR Congo scoring just twice and Egypt scoring six, including three from Mohamed, who is based in France. The Pharaohs had defeated the Leopards three times and lost one before this fifth AFCON match between the two nations from 1970 took place in the coastal city of west Ivorie.
Mohamed el Shenawy, an Egyptian goalkeeper who is considered the best in Africa, and Gael Kakuta, a playmaker for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were notable absences due to injuries. Egypt controlled the majority of the possession in a cagey first half until DR Congo’s controversial Elia goal gave them the lead.
DR Congo accepted a throw-in that Egypt had argued was theirs, and Yoane Wissa crossed for Elia to nod into the net at the far post while the North Africans protested. A minute into added time at the end of the first half, the Egyptian equalizer was also assisted by the off-field officials, according to a VAR review that verified the goal. Dylan Batubinsika elbowed Egypt captain Ahmed Hegazy in the face, and the referee, a South African, initially waved play on. However, after watching the incident on the monitor, he called a penalty.
As he hammered the spot-kick into the roof of the net, Mohamed sent Mpasi the wrong way, preserving his record of scoring a goal every game in the Ivory Coast. As the second half went on, DR Congo gained more possession of the ball, but both teams’ half-chances were infrequent due to the superior defenses of Chancel Mbemba and Hegazy.
The Congolese substituted Simon Banza, the league’s top scorer with 14 goals this season, for veteran forward Cedric Bakambu in an effort to strengthen their attack. DR Congo put consistent pressure on Egypt in extra time after Mohamed Hamdy was sent off, but they were unable to score the game-winning goal. Egypt was now down a man.- AFP