Bob Bradley and the Egyptian national team were bracing for the worst in Monday's World Cup qualifying final-round draw, and the they got it — with an ironic twist.
The Pharaohs must face Ghana in a two-legged playoff in order to make it to Brazil.
Egypt were the only team to take the maximum 18 points in the second round of African qualifying, but because they were ranked 50th in the September FIFA World Rankings — sixth-best of all 10 African group winners — they were relegated to Pot 2, and faced a pairing with a team from a Pot 1 that included Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria or Tunisia.
The draw conducted on Monday at African Confederations headquarters in Cairo confirmed that Ghana — the 24th-ranked team in the world and a quarterfinalist at the 2010 World Cup — would be Bradley & Co.'s opponent.
Coincidentally, it was Bradley's United States team the Black Stars beat in extra time on their way to final eight in South Africa four years ago. Now Bradley must coach his team past Ghana if Egypt are to qualify for their first World Cup since 1990.
"Matches against Ghana will be very tough as the team consists of several players from the biggest European leagues," Bradley told reporters after the draw. "There is no need to worry as we could have been paired with any of the five teams and they are all powerful."
Ghana host the first leg between Oct. 11-14. The second leg is set for Egypt on Nov. 15-19. Africa gets five spots at the next summer's World Cup.