New Zealand-Egypt Preview

New Zealand-Egypt Preview

Published Jul. 28, 2012 12:51 p.m. ET

Opening losses have left Egypt and New Zealand fighting for survival in Group C as they meet Sunday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

Egypt fell 3-2 to Brazil on Thursday and New Zealand by 1-0 to Belarus the same day. The only way the loser can be eliminated Sunday is if the Brazilians and Belorussians draw in the second game of this doubleheader in Manchester United's famed stadium.

The Egyptians believe they can build on a positive second-half performance against Brazil. They trailed by three after 30 minutes before nearly rallying for a point as Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Salah scored.

"If we hadn't the mistakes in the first half maybe we could've had a better result at the end, but that's football, we will have to learn from it," Egypt coach Hany Ramzy said. "I'm proud of my team, especially in the second half."


Salah, recently signed by Swiss club Basel, could be in the starting lineup Sunday after he entered at the start of the second half as a substitute and energized the Egyptian attack. The midfielder had been bothered by a shoulder injury.

While Egypt is making its first Olympic appearance in 20 years, New Zealand is in the tournament for the second straight time. It finished at the bottom of Group C four years ago in Beijing with two defeats and a draw against host nation China.

New Zealand was outshot 24-11 on Thursday, but felt that it deserved a better result.

"When you play well and your game plan goes well but you don't get the result that is sickening," coach Neil Emblen told New Zealand's official soccer website. "We have to dust ourselves off and get ready for Egypt."

Backup goalkeeper Michael O'Keefe was partially to blame for the game's lone goal, failing to reach a cross that left Belarus midfielder Dmitry Baga unmarked for an easy header right before halftime.

O'Keefe could be on the bench Sunday since regular starter Jake Gleeson could return after missing the opener with a groin strain.

Defender Ryan Nelsen, who plays in the English Premier League with Queens Park Rangers, said he was "bitterly disappointed" with the first game.

"We had the majority of the possession and created some really good chances," he said. "Generally most games are decided by mistakes and that was the case. ... Going a goal down was tough to take."

Playing in Old Trafford figures to be memorable for Nelsen due to his EPL background and for Emblen, an Englishman who expects his father to attend. Nelsen, the team captain, is confident of success.

"We'll learn that if we can stay a bit sharper and cut out the basic errors we can get something from Egypt," he said.

New Zealand faces Brazil on Wednesday at the same time Egypt meets Belarus in the final Group C games.