Ghana wrapped up its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 result against Egypt in the final round of qualifiers.
Mahmoud Shikabala shot the North Africans into the lead with a sublime finish in the 61st minute on Sunday much to the admiration of the few Egyptian fans who thronged the China-built sports stadium in the Coastal City of Cape Coast to cheer their team, reports Xinhua news agency.
Ghana leveled in the 64th minute through Edwin Gyasi whose left-footed shot deflected into the back of the Egyptian net.
The Black Stars piled on pressure in the second half of the encounter but the youthful West African side could not outwit the tight defensive set up of the Pharaohs.
Prior to the game, Egypt, who are seven-time African champions, had already secured the sole ticket to the global soccer fiesta from Group E, dashing Ghana’s hopes of making a fourth-straight FIFA world cup appearance.
The North Africans last featured in the FIFA world cup in 1990.
Before the game, players of Ghana’s Black Stars had promised to win the match in order to boost the West African soccer powerhouse’ s position on the FIFA world rankings, but they were frustrated by a tactical Egyptian side who also played for pride especially to prevent the heavy 1-6 defeat they suffered in their last encounter with Ghana in the 2014 World Cup qualifier.
Both sides were without key players as Egyptian coach Hector Cuper handed opportunities to fringe players in his fold while Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah was without skipper Asamoah Gyan and influential player Christian Atsu on his team.
The pair got injured during preparations for the match.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah says he has his eyes fixed on annexing the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy to end the Black Stars’ 35-year title drought and is putting together a strong team capable of winning the 2019 AFCON to be staged in Cameroon.
“We knew we were already out of the race to qualify for the World Cup, so I wanted to give other players the opportunity to see what they can offer my new team for 2019,” Appiah said at the post-match press conference.
Sunday’s result means that Ghana failed to record a win in all its three homes matches throughout the campaign after drawing goalless with Uganda in the opening round of the qualifiers before being held 1-1 by Congo.
The Black Stars thus finished third in Group E, seven points behind leaders Egypt and Uganda.
The final draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be held at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1.