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Eagles Won’t survive Alexandria Clash – Egypt

Egypt coach Hector Cuper says the Pharaohs are not ready to surrender the number one spot on the Gabon 2017 Group G  qualifying table, writing off Nigeria’s chances of turning the tables on his team in their reverse fixture  in Alexandria on Tuesday.
 Italy-based Mohamed Salah scored a late equaliser to help   the Pharaohs  hold the Super  Eagles  to a 1-1 draw in their   first leg clash in Kaduna on Saturday.

Egypt  lead the table on   four  points followed by Nigeria on two points. Record seven-time  African champions Pharaohs  would have been leading the table on seven points followed by the Eagles on five points if one of their group rivals Chad had not withdrawn from the qualifiers.
Chad’s withdrawal  has thrown  the group into a three-team race for the sole ticket to Gabon 2017. Egypt, who had beaten Chad 5-1 in the first leg fixture, are now on four points instead of seven. Second-placed Nigeria have lost three points as well, after their 2-0 victory over Chad was declared as void.

Argentine  manager Cuper, who says he is happy about the performance of  his  team in their Kaduna  draw,  say they would be out  to pick up  all points to seal their place in the finals.
The  60-year-old former Valencia and Inter Milan manager  disagreed with Nigeria coach Samson Siasia that the Pharaohs came to Kaduna to pick up a draw, hence they opted for a defensive game.

“Siasia has the freedom to say anything but we will attack in Alexandria and will try to win on our pitch,” Cuper was quoted by Egyptian sports outlet  Kingfut  as saying on Sunday.
He added, “We had a strong first half from the tactical side, but in the second half we committed a lot of mistakes and will work on improving.”

Meanwhile, Roma star  Salah said  he breathed a sigh of relief when the referee blew the final whistle  as he was on his way to one-on-one chance to score because hundreds of home fans were watching the game on the side track around the court.

“I breathed a sigh of relief after the ref blew the final whistle,” Salah, 23, told Al-Ahram Daily newspaper.
“I was afraid when I received the ball and was heading directly towards the goal to score what could have been the winner,” Salah said.
“Had I been able to score, I wouldn’t have been able to tell what exactly the fans’ response would be, that’s why I thanked God right after the final whistle.”
Egypt  have not qualified for the  tournament  since winning the last of their record seven trophies in 2010.