Egypt 1934: The first Africans at the second World Cup

By Bernard Marcout

Posted on June 15, 2010 14:07

World Cup victory has so far eluded African teams but they can claim credit for providing some of the tournament’s most memorable moments — Bernard Marcout looks back on Egypt’s exploits in 1934.

Judging the long steamer journey to be too arduous, Egypt decided to turn down its chance to play in the first World Cup, which was held in ?Uruguay in 1930.

The team, coached by Scotsman James McRea, a former Manchester United player, had no trouble qualifying for Italy four years later. They boarded the Helwann and made the Mediterranean crossing in four days.

The outing was brief, however, lasting just 90 minutes on 27 May 1934 in Naples. In the first half hour of the match, the opposition, Hungary – which was one of the strongest teams playing internationally at the time – was two goals ahead. But Egypt showed its class by levelling the score in the space of nine minutes thanks to a double by left-footer Abdel Fawzi, who thus entered history as the first African scorer in a World Cup.The first-half comeback was not enough to save the match and Egypt lost 4-2.

A few months before his death in 2002, goalie Mustapha Kamel Mansour recalled the painful defeat at the hands of the Central Europeans. “We were at 2-2 with the Hungarians when Fawzi grabbed the ball in midfield, dribbled past the oppostion and scored our third goal. But the Italian referee Rinaldo Barlassina ruled it offside.”?

In the same 2002 interview, Mansour, an Al-Ahly prodigy who had been spotted by McRea during a stint with Glasgow’s Queen’s Park FC remained bitter about the ?Giorgio-Ascarelli stadium defeat.? “The fourth Hungarian goal was scored after a foul on me,” he recalls. “I had the ball when a Hungarian forward crashed both his knees into me. He then fractured my nose with his elbow and the ref didn’t even notice.”?

Mansour played a total of four years in Scotland and returned to his country after the Second World War to coach Al-Ahly. He later became a government minister and between 1958 and 1961 was ?secretary-general of the Confederation of African Football (CAF)which had been born in 1957.

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