Emad Metab: Egypt v Algeria 2009
Words from Ahmed Yousef @EgyptianPlayers
Deciding on my favourite goal as an Egypt fan was not easy. There have been several memorable goals scored in my lifetime that have shaped Egyptian and African football, with the majority of them occurring in the later stages of Egypt’s historic 3 successive AFCONs between 2006 and 2010. During that time, Egypt had never qualified for the World Cup and that was what was truly missing from the team’s repertoire. Egypt’s hunger and desire to qualify for the World Cup leads me to a tough position deciding between two goals nearly a decade apart that both encapsulated Egypt’s desire to reach the promised land.
The one that I eventually decided was in second place was Mohamed Salah’s famous 94th minute penalty against Congo that sent Egypt to the 2018 World Cup for the first time after a 28-year absence. However, my favourite goal is the one that nearly sent Egypt to the World Cup, Emad Moteab’s 95th-minute goal in the last group game of the 2010 World Cup qualifying group stages against Algeria. To set the scene Egypt were placed in a tough World Cup qualifying group alongside bitter rivals Algeria. Prior to the last fixture of the group Algeria led Egypt and the group by 3 points and with only 1 team progressing though it was a must-win game for the Pharaohs. However, to complicate matters further Egypt needed to win by at least 3 goals to finish above on goal difference. Miraculously, if Egypt were to beat Algeria by a scoreline of 2-0 and 2-0 only, it would mean that both sides would be tied on goals scored, goals conceded and head-to-head (both home and away) meaning a play-off was required. Cue the 14th November 2009 and with a pre-match altercation between Egypt fans and the Algerian players the game kicked off in Cairo. Just three minutes in and Wigan legend, Amr Zaki fumbled in a loose ball to give Egypt the lead. The 90,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium erupted as the fans dreamed of 2 more goals to send Egypt through. As the game went on Egypt continued to pepper the Algerian goal however, the Algerian side defended superbly. Come the 94th minute all hopes of Egypt qualifying had all but vanished however, Egypt’s golden generation side persevered knowing that 1 more goal would lead to a playoff.
Right-back Ahmed Elmohamady picked the ball up on the far right corner of the pitch and after dribbling past 2 Algerian players he looked up for a cross and in doing so, the ball had rolled onto the touchline sparking cries for a goal kick from the Algerian players but it was to no avail. Before the ball fully crossed the line Elmohamady managed to produce a ball into the box that was instantly headed back out, but before all hope was over the ball reached the left-back on the opposite flank Sayed Moawad. Sayed who only had four Egyptian targets to aim for found Emad Moteab who had seemingly managed to evade the 10 Algeria players who had made it back into the box. Emad who is only 5ft 9in leapt high and headed Moawad’s ball across the goal beating the helpless Algerian keeper. As the ball rippled the net, not only did Cairo International Stadium’s 90,000 fans go mad but so did Egypt’s 90 million population. It doesn’t matter if Egypt went on to lose the play-off match against them just 4 days later. Nothing beats going from being hopeless to being unable to control your emotions in an instant.
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