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Salah Gives Egypt Narrow Advantage Over Senegal In World Cup Qualifying

It was technically an own goal, but we’ll give it to Mo.

FC Internazionale v Liverpool FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Mohamed Salah’s Egypt and Sadio Mané’s Senegal last faced off in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in February, and are once again pitted against each other in a home and away, two-legged qualifier for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Although it is patently unfair that one of the two finalists of Africa’s showcase international tournament will not go to the World Cup, that is precisely where we find ourselves. Qualifying for one of just five spots afforded to all of the African confederation is tough.

Then again, reigning European champions Italy also failed to qualify for the World Cup. So in addition to there not being nearly enough spots for African teams, another takeaway is that international football is as bad as it is unpredictable.

Anyway, the last time these two teams—each led by a Liverpool superstar—faced off, it resulted in 120 minutes of scoreless football, with Senegal prevailing on penalties.

This time, Egypt managed to sneak a 1-0 advantage in the first leg, thanks to an own goal in the 4th minute. The goal came after Mo Salah struck the post and then went in off Senegalese defender Saliou Ciss. It is Mo’s fifth time striking the woodwork since the end of the AFCON final, and at this point we should be concerned that Mo has been possessed by the ghosts of Liverpool’s 2011-12 season (when the Reds hit the post a staggering 33 times in the league).

The African Champions, Senegal, will have a chance to overturn the first-leg deficit in a decisive second leg, at home, on Tuesday night.