Cameroon and Egypt reach final
After almost three weeks of competition, the finalists of the
CAF Africa Cup of Nations are known with Cameroon to play Egypt on
Sunday in Accra. Home fans were left devastated as the Indomitable
Lions upset hosts Ghana 1-0 in their semi-final in Accra while the
Pharaohs stunned fancied Côte d'Ivoire by a comprehensive 4-1
scoreline in Kumasi on Thursday.
Joy for Lions, no revenge for Ivorians
Alain Nkong was something of an unknown quantity before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, uncapped by Cameroon and playing his club football in Mexico. But the 28-year-old is now another scoring hero for rampant Cameroon with the decisive touch as they edged past the hosts in their semi-final at the Ohene Djan stadium. His 72nd-minute finish came after a sublime bit of service from Samuel Eto'o, dashing the hopes of a near-capacity crowd. Ghana's injury and suspension crisis proved an insurmountable hurdle as their makeshift side struggled to create opportunities and left themselves open to counter-attacks by the Lions. Cameroon, who started the finals with a dreadful 2-4 loss, now find themselves in the championship match.
The repeat of the 2006 final was expected to be a chance for Côte d'Ivoire to extract some revenge over Egypt. Instead, the Pharaohs produced a stunning 4-1 win in Kumasi to keep up their hopes of retaining their African title. Ahmed Fathi's shot in the 12th minute was deflected by Salomon Kalou past his own goalkeeper to give the North Africans a half-time lead, but the decisive blow came just after the hour mark when a header from Amr Zaki doubled the advantage. Straight from the kick-off, the Elephants pulled one back through Abdelkader Keita but another goal from Zaki restored the two-goal margin and set Egypt on their way to the final.
Ghana 0-1 Cameroon
Alain Nkong (72')
Côte d'Ivoire 1-4 Egypt
Abdelkader Keita (63'); Ahmed Fathi (12'), Amr Zaki (62', 67'), Mohamed Aboutrika (90+2')
Egypt have won a record five Africa Cup of Nations and are now seeking to claim their sixth. Cameroon will be playing in their fifth final, having lost just one of their appearances in the continental championship decider. The pair are scheduled to play in Accra on Sunday. Thursday's losers, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, are in Kumasi for the third-place play-off match on Saturday
Goal of the Day
Egypt 4 Côte d'Ivoire 1 (Abdelkader Keita 63')
Côte d'Ivoire were stung by a second Egyptian goal to go down 2-0 but produced a stunning fight-back, albeit not enough of one to change the result. Aruna Dindane ran at the Egypt defence straight from the kick-off but found his path blocked. The ball then fell for Keita on the left side of Egypt's penalty area. He weighed his options briefly, lifted his head and burst inside the box before firing a missile past goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari. In the end, though, it proved in vain.
Player of the Day
Striker Amr Zaki is occasionally derided for his lack of work rate, both in training and in games. The player from Cairo giants Zamalek is not the hardest worker but he is a consummate finisher. He proved it at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations finals and again in Kumasi on Thursday with two crucial goals.
5 goals: Samuel Eto'o (CAM)
4 goals: Hosni Abd Rabou (EGY), Manucho (ANG), Amr Zaki (EGY)
3 goals: Mohamed Aboutrika (EGY), Soufiane Alloudi (MAR), Didier Drogba (CIV)
Ghana-Côte d'Ivoire (Third-place - Saturday, Kumasi, 17h00 local time)
Cameroon-Egypt (Final - Sunday, Accra, 17h00 local time)