Former African champions Egypt continued preparations for their first World Cup appearance in twenty-eight years in the absence of big name – Mohammed Salah – with a friendly draw against fellow World Cup finalists Colombia on Friday night.
Hector Cuper’s Pharaohs forced the South Americans to a 0-0 draw in front of just about 4,000 spectators in Bergamo, Italy. The best of chances in the game came in the first half where the North Africans twice came close to scoring through Ahmed Hegazi and Ramadan Sobhi.
Colombia, also coached by an Argentine, the famous Jose Pekerman could have scored in the first half too but James Rodriquez’s free kick came off Mohamed El Shenawy’s right hand post before Juan Cuadrado’s deft chip flew just over the cross bar.
The Egyptians will conclude their pre-World Cup schedule with a trip to Brussels to face Belgium next Wednesday before heading for Russia where they face Uruguay in their opening Group A game on Friday, June 15.
Another African representative Tunisia were denied a famous victory over ten-man Turkey after centre back Caglar Söyüncü scored in stoppage time as the Turks force their opponents to a 2-2 draw in Geneva, Switzerland.
Everton striker Cenk Tosun gave the Europeans the lead from the penalty spot on 54 minutes but the Carthage Eagles equalised two minutes later courtesy of Anice Badri’s sweetly struck half-volley from 25 yards. Tosun was then sent off just before the hour mark before Ferjani Sassi gave Tunisia the lead eleven minutes from time. Arsenal target Söyüncü however scored in stoppage time, sparking a pitch invasion by Turkish fans in Geneva.
Elsewhere, goals from Spain based trio Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann (from the penalty spot) and Ousmane Dembele gave France a comprehensive 3-1 victory over World Cup absentees Italy at the Allianz Riveira in Nice on Friday night.
Didier Deschamps’ Blues were never in trouble all through the game, not even when Leonardo Bonucci halved the deficit for Italy (at 2-1), converting a rebound after Hugo Lloris fumbled Mario Balotelli’s free kick. The French side will face the United States in their final friendly next Saturday before heading to Russia.
France’s first group stage opponent in Group C at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Australia also handed a 4-0 thrashing to Czech Republic on Friday despite resting a handful of their top stars. Hertha Berlin midfielder Mathew Leckie scored twice for the Socceroos who were without the rested trio of Brad Jones, Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill.