ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) -Egypt’s unbeaten run this year came to an end with a surprise 3-2 home loss to 10-man Central African Republic in their African Cup qualifier on Friday.
Egypt squandered an early lead in its home leg to face a stiff challenge in the second leg of the knockout tie in two weeks.
Mohamed Zidan scored first for Egypt in the 10th minute. Hilaire Momi equalized for the visitors 15 minutes later.
Egypt was in control when defender Salif Keita was sent off in the 35th after a second yellow card and Mohamed Salah restored the home team’s lead early in the second half.
But the Central African side hit back in a seven-minute spell in the middle of the second.
Momi scored again after being left unmarked at the far post, and David Manga grabbed the winner in the 69th from just inside the area.
It ended Egypt’s 13-match unbeaten run in 2012 and slowed its recent revival under former U.S. coach Bob Bradley after political upheaval at home led to the seven-time African champions surprisingly missing out on this year’s African Cup of Nations. It was just Egypt’s second international at home since a riot at a league game in Port Said in February left 74 people dead.
The first-leg game was suspended from February after those riots in Port Said and was also brought forward from the weekend so as not to clash with the presidential election runoff.
Mohamed Aboutrika and Salah combined to set up Zidan for a tap-in for Egypt’s opener in a game played without fans because of the ongoing security worries in the North African country.
Momi nearly hit back straight away, but did score in the 25th when he broke clear of Egypt’s defense to run through on goal.
Salah curled home a left-footed shot after Keita was dismissed, but Momi struck from a counterattack in the 62nd and Manga’s winner completed the surprise comeback.
Egypt travels to Bangui for the return leg on June 30, when it hopes to avoid missing the African Cup for the second successive year.