Ghana can start making arrangements for the World Cup after defeating Egypt 6-1 in the first leg of their play-off that leaves the second leg as a mere formality. The thrashing highlighted why Ghana is considered by many to be Africa's best team, while Egypt are left to rue a cruel qualifying format that saw them get no reward for a perfect group stage amid domestic turmoil.
The Black Stars were all over the Pharaohs from the start and were in front after just five minutes thanks to Asamoah Gyan and Abdul Waris. The latter played a gorgeous pass in for the former, and once Gyan was alone on goal, he was never going to miss. He buried his shot and Ghana led.
In the 22nd minute, Michael Essien doubled the home side's lead, even if he didn't get credit for the goal. He undressed the Egypt defense, dancing in and out before getting inside of 10 yards and while a deflection landed it in the net for an own goal, Ghana's 2-0 lead was Essien's doing.
Egypt got back in the match thanks to a penalty that Mohamed Aboutriaka converted in the 41st minute, but they couldn't even get out of the half without conceding again. Waris scored just before the break and that killed any hope Egypt had, setting the stage for a Ghana romp in the second half.
Gyan made it 4-1 less than 10 minutes into the second half and Sulley Muntari got in on the action when he slid home a penalty kick as Egypt's World Cup dream slipped further and further away, but Ghana wasn't done. Christian Atsu still had a goal in him to wrap up a 6-1 thrashing.
After a wonderful group stage that saw them make it through without a loss, Egypt have nothing to show for it. In a country dealing with civil war, the football team was a shining light, but a trip to the World Cup is not to be. The African qualifying format is cruel, not that Ghana is complaining. They are one of the continent's best teams and showed as much against Egypt, essentially ending the play-off after one leg to book their ticket to Brazil.