Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.
Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.
Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.
“I think the team is strong and the squad is strong but we are not happy to lose a member of our family,” said coach Javier Aguirre. “The team focused more on our match and played the 90 minutes in a serious manner. I don’t think the Egyptian team will be affected by the absence of anyone.”
Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament. Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season’s English Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.
After four days of small crowds, another capacity 75,000 crowd turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.
Salah takes over
DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.
Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick. Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope and Jonathan Bolingi’s looping header bounced back off the bar.
With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish. Played into space down the right by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi’s near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of Egyptian supporters.
Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now knows they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.
“The feelings are mixed when you play such a match. Unfortunately, we lost so the feeling is one of hurt, particularly for my players. They gave a lot and fought hard but didn’t get the result,” said DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge, whose side fell 2-0 to Uganda in their opening match.
“We’ve got one match left against Zimbabwe and we can hope for third place. We’re going to fight until the end.”
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International election observers flag concerns over Mozambique’s polls
The country voted in general polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud
International observers on Thursday said Mozambique’s election was conducted in an “orderly manner”, but expressed concerns about voter registration irregularities and “an unlevel playing field”.
The country voted in presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud.
President Filipe Nyusi’s Frelimo party — which has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975 — is widely expected to again beat its civil war foe, Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.
Election day was seen as largely peaceful, but tensions have risen with uncertainty over when the results will be released.
The final results must be published within 15 days of the vote, but the electoral commission has indicated a provisional tally — which had been expected on Thursday — would not be issued.
Ignacio Sanchez Amor, leader of the European Union’s OSCE observer mission, said “voting procedures were well-implemented” on election day.
However, he said the fact that there were no observers in almost half of the country’s polling stations “did not contribute to the transparency of the process”.
Amor added that “an unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign”.
“The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefited from the advantages of incumbency, including use of state resources.”
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) said it was regrettable that irregularities in voter registration had not been addressed before the vote.
Local non-profit observer groups had reported the presence of 300,000 “ghost voters” — names not aligned with real voters — on the electoral roll in the southern Gaza province.
“Key aspects of the process such as the security challenges, voter registration, the campaign and selective accreditation of citizen observers posed challenges to the integrity of the elections,” said EISA Mozambique head and former Ghana President John Dramani Mahama.
Former Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the Commonwealth’s observer mission “remained concerned about the impact” of the suspected ghost voters on the election.
However, observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had no such concerns.
“The pre-election and the voting phases of the 2019 electoral processes were generally peaceful and conducted in an orderly manner,” said Zimbabwean Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the SADC observer head.
The election has been seen as a key test of the peace deal sealed in August between Frelimo and Renamo, which fought a brutal 1975-1992 civil war.
Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia
Officials say the landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains
Rescue workers on Tuesday used excavators to dig out bodies after a landslide in southern Ethiopia washed away homes and killed more than 20 people, a local official said.
The landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains, said the official, Takele Tesfu.
“There are 22 people dead and we have only been able to dig up 17 using manpower and machine power,” Takele told reporters.
“So far, we cannot get the others, so tomorrow we will continue to dig.”
He said the victims included nine women and six children.
While the district — located in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region — sees landslides with some regularity, Takele said this was the deadliest he could remember.
“The area where this occurred is very mountainous, and this means the landslide was very dangerous,” he said.
Ethiopia is nearing the end of its rainy season, but security forces are nonetheless relocating some families for fear that more rain in the coming days could lead to similar disasters, Takele said.
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