Not having qualified for the World Cup since 1934, when the tournament last was held in Italy, it had been a long absence from the global stage for the Egyptians. They remained one of the major nations on their continent, however, and had won the ACN as recently as 1986 (their 3rd championship overall). To their luck, they had been handed what looked a very advantageous draw for the 2nd Round of the CAF qualifiers, and were clear favorites to proceed to the final round.
There was a new coach at the helm, Mahmoud El-Gohary, who only had had a few months to prepare the team for the 1990 World Cup campaign. He had been appointed in September 1988, after being lured away from a lucrative contract in Saudi Arabia. Known for a cautious, defensive-minded style of play, El-Gohary had taken over the reins after Mike Smith, who had overseen a rather mediocre performance by the Egyptians in the latest edition of the African Cup of Nations in 1988.
World Cup appearances: 1934
Manager: Mahmoud El-Gohary
Nasser Stadium, Cairo
Egypt off to a good start on their Italia’90 campaign with a 2-0 win against a Liberian side featuring stars like George Weah and James Debbah. Two first-half goals secure the win for the home favourites, through Mayhoub and Ramadan. Mayhoub nets a rebound from Liberia’s goalkeeper Bestman, while Ramadan’s goal is a delightful diving header. There is heartbreak for influential midfielder Ismail Youssef, however, who sustained a serious injury and would be ruled out for months to come.
Line-up: Shoubair – I. Hassan, Kassem, H. Ramzy, A. Ramzy ( Abdel Galil) – Youssef (El-Kass 38′), Abdelghani, Mayhoub, Soliman – Ramadan, Abdel Hamid.
Ghazl El Mahalla Stadium, El Mahalla
Hjelm o.g. (30′)
Line-up: Ayman Taher – Yasser Farouk, Hany Ramzy (Ashraf Kassem), Hesham Yakan (El-Mohammadi Saleh), Rabea Yassin – Khalid Eid, Effat Nassar, Reda Abdel-Al, Hesham Abdel-Rasoul, Mohamed Abdel-Galil (Ahmed El-Kass), Ayman Shawky (Hammama).
Nasser Stadium, Cairo
Abdel Rasoul (7′)
K. Eid (80′)
Line-up: Khalid Moustafa – Yasser Farouk, Hany Ramzy (Ashraf Kassem), Hamada Sedki, Hesham Yakan, Rabea Yassin – Reda Abdel Al, Mohamed Abdel Galil, Hesham Abdel Rasoul (Ayman Shawky), Effat Nssar, Mohamed Ramadan (Khalid Eid).
Silver Stadium, Lilongwe
Draw against the reigning East African champions Malawi. Egypt overall showed more quality on the ball, but rarely threatened the inexperienced Malawi goalkeeper Ganizani. They had plenty of possession through playmaker Abdelghani and overloaded the Malawi full-backs again and again, but with little threat in the final third, striker Abdel-Hamid receiving little support from the attacking midfielders. Abdel-Rasouls curls a ball into the goal from a corner, but Egypt are punished late on after being put under severe pressure toward the end. A draw probably reflected the balance in a game often bereft of footballing quality.
Line-up (5-4-1): Shoubeir – I. Hassan, H. Ramzy, Yakan, Kassem, A. Ramzy – Abdelghani, El-Kass, Solimani (K. Eid HT), Abdel-Rasoul – Abdel-Hamid (c) (Ramadan 84′).
Nasser Stadium, Cairo
Kirsten (5′, 84′)
Thom (43′, 87′)
Egypt suffer a heavy defeat to East Germany, who had brought a full-strength team to Cairo. The score line is a blow to the their reputation as a defensively solid side, but the game was more evenly contested than the result suggests. Egypt did manage to put the visitors under spells of pressure, but had nothing of the ruthlessness in front of goal which the Germans displayed. The first two goals are great individual efforts by Kirsten and Thom, who both followed up with a second goal toward the end of the game. DDR football magazine FuWo also credits East Germany for a solid display and top efficiency. (Fun fact: The architect of Nasser Stadium was Werner March, who was also the man behind the building of the Olympiastadion in Berlin.)
Line-up: Shobair – I. Hassan, Yakan, H. Ramzy, Kassem, A. Ramzy (Yassin HT), Mayhoub, Soliman (K. Eid HT), Abdel Rasoul (El-Mohammadi Saleh 80′), El-Kass (Abdel Galil 82′), Abdel Hamid (H. Hassan HT).
Line-up: Shobair – I. Hassan, Sedki, H. Ramzy, Yassin, El-Kass, Mayoub (Abdel Galil), Farouk, K. Eid (Ramadan), H. Hassan, Abdel Rasoul.
A. Ramzy (56′)
Line-up: Shobair – I. Hassan, Yakan (Ragab), Qassem, H. Ramzy, Yassin (A. Ramzy), S. Eid, Abdel Rasoul, El-Kass (Abdel Galil), Abdel Hamid, K. Eid (H. Hassan).
Abdel Hamid (9′)
Abdel Rasoul (41′)
Line-up: Shobair – I. Hassan, H. Ramzy, Yassin, A. Ramzy, El-Kass (Abdel Galil 62′), Abdelghani (Shawki 73′), Qassem, Ragab, Abdel Rasoul, Abdel Hamid (H. Hassan HT).