World Cup 1990: Ireland 0 Egypt 0
ONE ALWAYS had the fear that Egypt would cause problems for the Republic of Ireland at La Favorita Stadium in Palermo yesterday.
But not in the cynical manner in which El Gohary's men operated, ll was a fashion which was a disgrace lo the game. Why a side that was supposed to be trying to win employed time-wasting as one of their main gambits from the first minute, I'll never know, and certainly never condone.
But they did just that, with the goalkeeper Shobeir the chief instigator. While he was not the only one imbued with this particular form of fanaticism, it was long overdue when referee Marcel Van Langenhovc finally booked him in the 76th minute.
Even that warning did not totally eradicate Egypt's shameful tactics and it would be a shame if, by some mis-chance, this country advanced to the second phase of the tournament.
Unfortunately, the Irishmen may well not make it, either. They are now in the position they wanted so desperately to avoid - of having to gel at least a draw against Holland.
Before the start of the game, the hills rising sheer lo form a spectacular backdrop along one side of the ground resounded with the music of the Irish National Anthem.
At the finish, they rang with the boos and whistles directed at the Egyptian side as they trooped down the tunnel and with their goalkeeper, believe it or not, having a smile on his face and waving to the crowd.
Despite the disappointing result, this was, in every way, I thought, a better all-round performance than the one against the English.
Once again, Kevin Sheedy was quite brilliant.
But, for all our possession, we couldn't score. One of our best chances came in the 32nd minute when a great ball from Stephen Staunton was chested down by John Aldridge to Sheedy, who spurted into the area only to fall over the outstretched fool of Ibrahim Hassan. It seemed a very reasonable claim for a penalty but the referee was having none of it.
That was just one of several occasions when Staunton showed the eye to create an attacking opportunity. He also got in a couple of booming shots at goal, one of which whistled past an upright with Shobeir stranded.
Kevin Moran was rock steady beside Mick McCarthy, who was once again a dominant figure. Indeed, the entire defence combined to ensure that Packie Bonner did not have to make one save during a one-sided match in which only one team was truly looking for both points.
While Sheedy was the star, the rest of the midfield also shone. Ray Houghton was back to his driving, harrying and probing best; Paul McGrath, read the trend of play superbly; and Andy Townsend completely closed down the opposition.
But, while Cascarino and John Aldridge could also be given an A for effort, somehow Ireland failed to reap the fruits of their labours. The substitutions did not alter things. Alan Mcl.oughlin, sari lo say, got two promising touches at the ball and wasted both of them.
The Belgian referee did not really have the best of days.
In quick succession in the second half, Tony Cascarino was knocked off the ball illegally by Yakan just outside the area and Townsend was blatantly impeded inside it.
But, on each occasion, the referee, after a quick look at his linesman, waved the play on and seemed to dodge the decision he was in a good position to make.
Republic of Ireland: Packie Bonner, Chris Morris, Steve Staunton, Mick McCarthy (capt), Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath, Ray Houghton, Andy Townsend, John Aldridge (Alan McLoughlin 65'), Tony Cascarino (Niall Quinn 85'), Kevin Sheedy.
Booked: Chris Morris 51'
Egypt: Ahmed Shoubeir, Ibrahim Hassan, Rabie Yassin, Hani Ramzy, Hesham Yakan, Ismail Youssef, Magdy Abdelghani (capt), Magdy Tolba (Taher Abou Zaid 61'), Osama Orabi, Ahmed Abdou El-Kass (Gamal Abdelhamid 77'), Hossam Hassan.
Booked: Ahmed Shoubeir 72'
Referee: Marcel van Langenhove (Belgium)
Venue: Stadio Della Favorita, Palermo