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Pharaohs take control of Harambee Stars’ group: Two teams qualify for AFCON 2021 finals in Cameroon

FOOTBALL By AFP | November 16th 2020
Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah is marked by South Africa's midfielder Dean Furman (R) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Egypt and South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian Capital on July 6, 2019. (I / AFP)

Salah-less Egypt edge Togo ahead of tomorrow’s return leg in Lome as Kenya slip to third.

Mohamed Salah-less Egypt scored through defender Mahmoud el Wensh to edge Togo 1-0 in Cairo Saturday and kick-start a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

Egypt’s victory pushed Kenya’s Harambee Stars to third place. Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee’s side were due to face off with Comoros last night in Moroni, the Indian Ocean Island’s capital.

In Cairo, prolific Liverpool scorer Salah sat out the Togo clash after testing positive for Covid-19 when he arrived in Cairo for international duty and a subsequent test produced a similar result.

Apart from missing back-to-back matches against Togo, he could also be ruled out of the next two matches for his club, against leaders Leicester City in the Premier League and Atalanta in the Champions League.

Salah has shown no symptoms of coronavirus and Egyptian Football Association medical staff have been in contact with counterparts at Liverpool.

The two-time African Footballer of the Year award winner has had an unlucky Cup of Nations campaign having suffered an injury against Kenya last November, which ruled him out of a match in the Comoros.

El Wensh -- also known as Mahmoud Hamdy and Mahmoud Attia -- beat goalkeeper Malcolm Barcola on 54 minutes with a header from point-blank range after Togo failed to clear a softly-awarded free-kick.

It sufficed to give record seven-time African champions Egypt a first win in Group G after draws with Kenya and the Comoros.

The Pharaohs will face Togo again in Lome Tuesday before visiting Kenya and hosting the Comoros next March, and the group winners and runners-up qualify for the 24-nation tournament in Cameroon.

Comoros and Egypt have five points each, Kenya three and Togo one after three rounds in a section where all the contenders will believe they still have a chance of making the finals.

Togo, who are guided by legendary French coach Claude le Roy, can draw encouragement from having most of the possession after falling behind in Cairo.

Meanwhile, Benin closed the gap behind Group L leaders Nigeria to one point after defeating Lesotho 1-0 in Porto-Novo through a first half goal from Jodel Dossou.

The match-winner was a French affair with Dossou from second-tier Clermont the scorer and Khaled Adenon from third-tier Avranches the creator.

In Group D, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola remained third and fourth behind Gabon and the Gambia after a drab 0-0 draw in Kinshasa.

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