11.02.2008 Football News

Egypt are kings again

By GBC News
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Defending champions Egypt won a record sixth Africa Cup of Nations with a fully-deserved victory over Cameroon. The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute when Mohamed Aboutrika pushed home a Mohamed Zidan pass after a mistake by Cameroon's Rigobert Song.

The Pharaohs also went close when Hosni Abd Rabou hit the post on 61 minutes and they become the first side to win back-to-back titles twice. Cameroon were seeking a fifth title, but rarely troubled the Pharaohs.

It was a triumph for Egypt coach Hassan Shehata who becomes only the second coach to win successive trophies. His team had much the better of the first half, creating most of the scoring chances with their speed and mobility.

Once again Cameroon based their game on physical power, taking a defensive approach that supplied few openings to lone striker Samuel Eto'o. Ahmed Hassan was the engine of the Egyptian midfield and key in setting the pace of the Pharaohs' game

Aboutrika came close on 13 minutes, with a 35-yard shot that was pushed around the post by Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. Two minutes later the Indomitable Lions were forced to make a substitution, with Gilles Binya replacing Alexandre Song, who was carrying an injury from the previous game.

Cameroon defender Geremi forced a save from Essam Al-Hadari from a free-kick, but the Pharaohs almost took the lead seconds later. Hadari's clearance found Emad Moteab, whose 15-yard shot was parried brilliantly by Kameni, but into the path of Aboutrika, whose shot was too high.

Nine minutes before half-time a ball over the Cameroon defence found Moteab inside the area, Kameni made a fine save from the shot, and it remained goalless. Cameroon came back from the break with purpose, causing the tempo of the match to increase considerably, but Egypt quickly took control of the game again.

Kameni had to make two more fine saves, from a close-range Amr Zaki shot, then from Abd-Rabou's 25-yard cracker that he punched away. Gilles Binya (left) and Mohamed Said in action in Sunday's final The Pharaohs continued to pile on pressure, and Abd-Rabou hit the post with a header on 61 minutes. With 13 minutes remaining, Egypt finally got the goal they deserved.

Cameroon captain Rigobert Song was punished for untidy defending, losing a tussle with substitute Zidan. Zidan pushed the ball along the edge of the box into the path of Aboutrika, who had a simple finish from 15 yards. As Egypt celebrated, Song covered his face with his shirt, knowing that he should have cleared the ball away.

Song headed over the bar in stoppage-time, but there was to be no redemption for the defender, in his seventh Nations Cup. Egypt won the first two editions of the tournament, in 1957 and 1959, but with the competition far more intense now, these victories have far greater significance. Shehata's feat of two Cups in a row matched that of Ghana's CK Gyamfi, who won the tournament in 1963 and 1965. Aboutrika's goal was the 99th of the tournament, which produced more goals than any other Nations Cup.

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