Ahmed Hassan kept African champions Egypt in the hunt for a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with the winning goal against Rwanda in Kigali.
The 34-year-old midfielder hammered an Ahmed Fathi pass into the net on 68 minutes in front of a near-capacity crowd at the 35,000-seat Amahoro Stadium in the Rwandan capital. The win lifted the Pharaohs to seven points from four Group C qualifiers, level with fierce rivals Algeria, who host Zambia on Sunday and are expected to triumph in Blida.
It was a must-win game for Egypt, who have lifted the CAF Africa Cup of Nation a record six times but qualified for the FIFA World Cup only twice, with their last appearance 19 years ago in Italy. The North Africans came close to scoring a few times in the opening half and then withstood an early second-half Rwandan attacking flurry before Hassan struck.
Goalkeeper Jean-Claude Ndori deprived Egypt of a second goal in stoppage time with a brave stop to block a Sayed Moawad shot at the expense of a corner.
Substitute Chiukepo Msowoya scored twice after coming on at half-time as Malawi came from behind to defeat Guinea 2-1 in Grop E. Oumar Kalabane put the West Africans ahead seven minutes before half-time at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, Msowoya levelled a minute after half-time and snatched the 58th-minute winner.
Côte d'Ivoire (nine points) and Burkina Faso (six), who clash later Saturday in Abidjan, have dominated the section while Guinea and Malawi have three each as they contest third place. The five group winners join hosts South Africa at the first FIFA World Cup to be staged in Africa, while the top three finishers in each mini-league go to the 2010 Cup of Nations in Angola.