ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP)—Egypt scored twice in a 10-minute spell in the second half Friday to earn a 2-0 win over Mozambique in its opening World Cup qualifier and first game at home in eight months.
Defender Mahmoud Fathallah tapped in the opener in the 54th minute at an empty military stadium on the Mediterranean coast near Alexandria, where fans weren’t allowed in because of security concerns. Mozambique goalkeeper Joao Kapango conceded an own goal in the 63rd for Egypt’s second after Mohamed Zidan’s volley came off the post and deflected in off the keeper.
It was American coach Bob Bradley’s first competitive game in charge of Egypt, and first on home soil, after taking over last year amid political upheaval following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s interior ministry gave permission for the qualifier to go ahead but ruled it should be played behind closed doors because of ongoing unrest during elections. More than 70 people died in clashes connected to political instability at a league game in February.
“This first win in World Cup qualification was for all the people of Egypt,” said Bradley, who hugged each of his players as they came off the field at the end. “We’ve all had many challenges, and the team felt that it was important to go out tonight and play for everyone. We talked before the game to look into the stands and to see 90 million fans, because they were all with us tonight.”
Fathallah and central defensive partner Ahmed Hegazy combined to put Egypt ahead early in the second as the home team finally broke down a resolute Mozambique defense. Hegazy headed down a cross for an unmarked Fathallah to score at the far post.
Zidan connected with a thumping left-footed volley nine minutes later, which rebounded off the post and hit Kapango before trickling over the goal line.
The win extended Bradley’s unbeaten run this year to 13 games in charge of the seven-time African champion, which missed out on the African Cup for the first time in three decades after a turbulent 12 months at home. Egypt hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1990.
Egypt’s Group G rivals Zimbabwe and Guinea meet on Sunday. Egypt’s next qualifier is away to Guinea next weekend.
The 10 group winners from Africa’s main qualifying competition will enter final playoffs at the end of next year to determine the continent’s five representatives at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.