Aboutrika, Egypt's crown prince
Egypt's second consecutive African title should come as no surprise. Hassan Shehata's side have been far-and-away the most complete side on the continent over the last two years. And just to underline their regional superiority, the Pharaohs also boast some of Africa's most talented players, chief among them their 29-year-old playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika.
That such an exceptionally talented player continues to ply his artful trade in the Egyptian league remains a mystery to many, and in the wake of another flawless performance in Sunday's final in Accra that mystery is set to deepen. The heartbeat of the North African side, Aboutrika was simply irrepressible as he spurred his country to victory.
"It's a wonderful feeling to win this Cup twice in a row," said the man himself after the final whistle had blown. "It feels even better to win it away from home. We already had an excellent team in 2006, but since then we've had some very talented players come into the squad and they have helped give us a lot more experience. We've also been working together for a long time with the same coach, and in a way my team-mates in the national side have become my second family."
Right place, right time
The No22 dictated the pace of events at the Ohene Djan Stadium right from the kick-off. In response to Cameroon's lightning attacks, Egypt knocked the ball around in typically polished style, with Aboutrika setting the tempo in the heart of midfield and prompting his side forward. On 13 minutes he was the first to go close for the reigning champions as Carlos Idriss Kameni pushed his drive round the post for a corner. He was in the thick of things again moments later, firing over the bar after a fine move involving Amr Zaki and Emad Moteab.
With the Cameroonian Lions proving as indomitable as ever, however, the two-time CAF Champions League winner duly dropped back to help his defence channel the ball forward.
His long ball from deep then set Moteab away, but Kameni was on hand to snuff out the danger, and the Espanyol keeper needed to be alert again just before the break when Aboutrika picked out Zaki superbly on the left.
The toast of Egypt
Serving notice yet again of his instinctive positional sense, the Egyptian schemer slowly began to unpick the Cameroonian rearguard. With his innate ability to read a game, he urged his team-mates on, continually reminding them where they needed to be. With 66 minutes gone he swung a deliciously teasing cross to the far post only for Hosni Abd Rabou, the player of the tournament, to find the post with his header.
The king of the Pharaohs was in no mood to be denied, however, and duly delivered the decisive blow with just 13 minutes left. Following an Egyptian counter-attack down the left, Mohamed Zidan wrestled the ball from Rigobert Song and delivered a pass into the path of the unmarked Aboutrika, who, timing his run into the box to perfection, slotted the ball past the exposed Kameni.
"Scoring for my country is even more important than scoring for my club," commented the match-winner. "When I saw the ball hit the back of the net I knew I would be making the whole country happy, and that's something I'm very proud of."
One goal to the good, the Egyptians savoured the last few minutes of a match they had dominated. As the final whistle approached, coach Shehata even gave his star man the chance to milk the applause of the Accra crowd by bringing him off for Ibrahim Said. And when it was all over, Aboutrika kissed the turf in triumph, grateful to have played his part in keeping the Pharoahs at the summit of African football.