Egypt women’s football team will take a two goal cushion to Addis Ababa in the return leg of the 2012 African Women Championship preliminary round match in a fortnight’s time. Home side Egypt emerged victorious in a closely fought encounter with two goals from captain Engi Atia and one each from Salma Tarek and Haiam Abd El Hafiz. Ethiopia replied through Erehima Biza and Shetaye Abaa.
Egypt were quick to settle into the game and forced early corner kicks as forwards Nesma Fekry , Mahera Ali and Salma Tarek sought to stretch out the Ethiopian defence. The first corner kick for Egypt had Dagmawet Bekele in goal for Ethiopia parry the ball away from her goal-line with her defenders still finding their feet. The sight of it all was all Engi Atia needed when she lined up the second corner kick which she swung with her left boot and it eluded all in the box to nestle into the back of the net for the opening goal.
A stunned Ethiopia slowly got back into the game and impressed with some short neat passes initiated from the back. Soon Eden Negri was finding her range with passes and linking up with midfielder Birtukan Ware, Biza and Abaa but the final ball and short was largely lacking. Egyptian defence held tightly by Neven Gamal and Yasmin Samir was soon over-working as the Ethiopians dominated play. One well worked out move started by Berktawit Aboye put Abaa through on goal but she shot tamely straight into Fawkia Amry’s hands but the warning signs were flashing for the hosts. As the half time mark beckoned Ethiopia were virtually camped in the Egyptian half leaving the home side chasing the ball. The equaliser eventually came through Biza who headed clinically past Amry from a delightful cross by Abaa after some neat exchanges. The teams went into the break at 1-1 with Egypt relieved for a change to regroup.
At the start of the second half both coaches introduced substitutes and the new players had immediate impact. Haiam Abd El Hafiz brought some pace and trickery upfront for Egypt. She almost put Egypt in front when she intercepted an attempted pass across the backline by the Ethiopians but her shot sailed over the cross bar. The Ethiopian defence didn’t seem to heed the danger of playing the square passes across the backline and they were to pay for it later. Abdel Hafiz got onto a through ball but seemed to have had a heavy touch as she raced towards goal. Bekele came off her goal-line and from the ensuing contact with Abd El Hafiz the Egyptians were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Atia to skillfully convert for hers and Egypt’s second goal. The goal brought back the momentum in Egypt’s favour and they went in search for more goals with Sara Abdallah and Salma Tarek making dangerous runs behind the opposition’s defence.
Egypt carved up a move involving a number of players and it was skillfully finished off by Tarek running onto a ball into space behind the defence and she picked her spot, knocking it past Bekele as she came off her line. Ethiopian was stunned again and it got worse shortly afterwards when Ethiopian captain Bezuhan Alemar who up until then had had a good game was caught in two minds with the ball at her feet . She was robbed of the ball by an alert Abd El Hafiz who ran on goal placed her shot beyond diving Bekele. Egypt sought to play out the game and the visitors encouraged by coach Abraham Teklehymanot went for a late rally to try and reduced the deficit. As urgency crept into the Ethiopian game, Ware’s delicate touch returned and she was again finding the forwards with some fine passes. Abaa made the most of a long ball that was not dealt with by Egyptian defence and she raced towards goal before shooting across Amry for Ethiopia’s second. There final whistle came not too long after that goal and the two teams will battle it out all over again in two weeks in Ethiopia.