Egypt strike late to down Stars
© AFP

Day 22 - Substitute Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagui scored in the 85th minute at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations final to defeat Ghana 1-0 on Sunday in Luanda. It is the Pharaohs’ seventh continental trophy and third on the trot, which is a new Cup of Nations record.

All five of tournament top-scorer Nagui’s goals in the event came from off the bench, and he never played much longer than half an hour in any of the matches. He entered the final in the 70th minute for Emad Moteab, and a quarter of an hour later broke brave Ghanaian hearts with the match’s only moment of attacking brilliance.

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ finalists Ghana brought an injury-depleted team to Angola, but punched well above their weight to reach their first final since 1992. The four-time CAN champions had won each of their last three matches by a 1-0 score, and for most of the final they stymied the vaunted Egyptian attack and showed they were every bit deserving of their place.

But in the end, Egypt extended an historic march with their 19th match unbeaten. Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Hassan, Emad Moteab, Essam Al Hadary and Wael Gomaa all lifted their third trophy, with Hassan, who was also named the tournament's best player, becoming the first to win four medals (also 1998). Al Hadary also picked up his third consecutive Best Goalkeeper at the CAN.

Results
Ghana 0-1 Egypt (Nagui 85’)

Goal of the day
Ghana 0-1 Egypt, Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagui (85’)
Though the final was an even affair with few mistakes and chances, the winning strike was worthy of the occasion. Naturally it started with the new definition of super-sub, Gedo, who stormed down the left side of the Ghanaian defence before playing a slick one-two with Mohamed Zidan. The Al Ittihad forward, who was competing in his first Cup of Nations finals, then curled his right-footed shot across the diving Richard Kingson and into the far side-netting.

Memorable Moments
That kind of night
For most of the match, Egypt were never able to get their attack going. The side that had scored 14 goals in their previous five matches were suppressed by the Ghanaian midfield and defence, and the likes of Hassan and Mohamed Zidan were mostly limited to long-range efforts. They did create two chances on either side of half time that were indicative of their struggles however. In the 40th minute Fathi's free-kick from the right beat everyone, and though Hassan was the closest to it, the ball bounded over the endline. In the 67th minute, Hassan turned creator, laying the ball nicely through to Emad Moteab, who failed to control it before Kingson could gather it up.

Another round for the youngsters
Though it is certainly premature to think that the likes of Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, John Mensah and John Paintsil are worried about losing their places while out injured, there is no question that the Ghanaian bench at the FIFA World Cup this summer in South Africa will be stronger and more experienced because of this event. In the final, defenders Issac Vorsah, Samuel Inkoom and Lee Addy again held their own against a veteran Egyptian side, as did midfielders Andre Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah - and they are all under 21. Organised and hard working, Ghana held the Pharaohs to a single tally, which no other team had done in the event.

Black Stars look for the win
For the first three quarters of the final, Ghana focused on controlling Egypt’s attacks and only forayed forward occasionally. Then Asamoah Gyan, who had been the Black Stars’ hero with three of their four goals in the tournament, curled a chance just over from 20 yards, and a few minutes later caused Al Hadari discomfort with a swerving free-kick. The best of the spell came in the 80th minute when Gyan’s pass was deflected to Inkoom, who crossed dangerously through the box. But the on-rushing Opuko Agyemang just could not get to the end of it and Ghana would soon rue the missed chance. Their only real chance after the goal fell to Eric Addo, but the defender was off-balance after another Inkoom cross and could only manage to touch the ball meekly to the goalkeeper. Gyan, who was substituted in the 87th minute, could only look on in disbelief.

The stat
173
The total number of minutes played by tournament top-scorer Nagui. Five times he bulged the net, meaning that in Angola he was good for a goal every 35 minutes.

What they said
"We wanted to win it so badly in our hearts, but in the end, Egypt’s experience was crucial. We played carefully. We were very patient and methodical. We played to score, and we controlled the match. But we were unfortunate to concede a goal.” Coach Milovan Rajevac after Ghana’s first final in 18 years.

"This is the best Egypt team ever, of any generation. Three in a row is something that will be hard to beat. Team work was the key for us. Hopefully we’ll be back again in two years time." Egypt coach Hassan Shehata after his third successive Nations Cup crown.

"I'd like to congratulate Ghana for how well they played. It's important to take your chance, and we took ours. We said we were the champions from the first day we arrived in Angola and that we would defend our title. We have won three titles - in 2006, 2008 and 2010. This was the most difficult of all of them." Egypt Assistant Coach Shawky Gharib.

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