Pharaohs march into last eight
Day 7 - Egypt became the second side through to the quarter-finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, making sure of top place in Group C with a 2-0 win over Mozambique. Nigeria, who beat Benin 1-0 earlier in the day, are the only side who can still match their six point haul, but Egypt will still finish first due to their 3-1 win over the Eagles in the opening group game.
Nigeria were expecting a difficult opponent in Benin to kick off the double-header on Saturday, but they got more than they bargained for in the end, winning the hard-fought contest thanks to a 42nd-minute penalty from Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
Defender Dario Khan scored an own goal in a second successive game at the event to gift Egypt a 47th-minute lead, while Mohamed Nagui made sure of the win with a stunning volley that is among the classiest moments of the tournament so far.
Goal of the day
Egypt 2-0 Mozambique, Mohamed Nagui (81’)
Nagui showed world-class skill in hammering home a left-footed volley for Egypt’s second goal against the Mambas. He had not properly controlled a clever through ball from Ahmed Hassan with his right foot, but quickly recovered to hammer home with his left before the ball touched the ground. The powerful shot from the edge of the area gave the Mozambique goalkeeper no chance, and the man known as ‘Gedo’ flopped to the turf in relief but surely not exhaustion since he had just come on as a substitute in the 68th minute. Egypt’s captain Hassan set up the goal with quick thinking after his midfield tackle, again proving his ageless quality.
Twice unlucky for Khan
Dario Khan looked as if he wanted the ground to swallow him up after his second own goal in two matches at the Nations Cup set an unwanted record for the Mozambique defender. Against Benin on Tuesday he tried to scoop a clearance wide, but ended up steering it into his own net, and against Egypt today he got caught as fellow defender Mexer missed an attempted clearance of Ahmed Fathi’s hard cross and the ball deflected off him smartly into his own net. The 47th-minute goal seemed to break the Mozambican spirit and allowed Egypt to control the tempo of the second half.
Benin gave away a penalty to Nigeria three minutes before half-time as a goal-bound header from Peter Odemwingie hit Romauld Boco on the hand. It was a difficult moment for the Beninoise, who had held their much-vaunted opponents at bay and were looking to go into the half-time break with their tails up. The imposing presence of Nigeria defender Danny Shittu up on the attack caused some panicky defending and while the first Nigerian chance was cleared, a second cross provided Odemwingie with a chance that fell right on the hand of the Irish-based Boco. Everton’s Yakubu converted the kick to win the game for the Super Eagles.
At 1.55m, pint-sized Arnauld Seka is the smallest player at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. He is also among the most popular, given a rousing reception by the crowd in Benguela when he came on as a second-half substitute for Benin against Nigeria. Every touch of the ball from the right winger was greeted with a roar and when he played a clever one-two in the midfield as Benin surged forward, the noise was almost deafening. His tiny frame has turned him into a quasi-cult figure in the seaside city and Benguela should get a further chance to see him in action on Wednesday when Benin next play Egypt at the Ombaka National Stadium.
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz, who was born in Mozambique, sat in the VIP stand to watch Saturday’s double header in Benguela. When his face flashed on the big screen there was a cheer from the Angolans, even though Portugal had beaten them in the last FIFA World Cup™ finals in Germany. Portugal are in the same group with Côte d’Ivoire at South Africa 2010.
15 – The number of matches that Egypt have now gone unbeaten at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, a run that stretches back to the 2004 edition in Tunisia. They broke the previous record set by Cameroon between 1984 and 1988.
What they said
"We have to be realistic about our expectations, but the margin between reality and dreaming today was the width of the crossbar.” Benin coach Michel Dussuyer after his side twice hit the woodwork against Nigeria.
Gabon - Tunisia (17 Jan. 16:00 GMT)
Cameroon - Zambia (17 Jan. 18:30 GMT)
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