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Captain Fantastic Sends Egypt Into the Semi’s

An Ahmed Hassan brace was the deciding factor as Egypt required 120 minutes to overcome Cameroon and reach the semi-finals. The Indomitable Lions were hoping to atone for their final heartbreak in 2008, in the hands of the Pharaohs, but once again find themselves asking “where did it all go wrong?”

Cameroon probably had the better of the early exchanges, looking promising in attack, yet somewhat lacking a cutting edge. And they looked in poll position after 26 minutes, when Egypt captain Hassan failed to deal with a near post corner, which he turned into his own net. Egypt almost found an instant response when Moteab headed the ball around the ‘keeper following a quick counter-attack, but his touch was too heavy.

Hassan did level the scores, however, when he scored at the other end. His long range strike gathered pace as it bounced just in front of Kameni before hitting the corner of the net. The equaliser demonstrated Hassan’s strength of mind, in this his 170th appearance on the international scene, an African record.

Hassan celebrates his goal… at the right end

With neither team looking like snatching a winner, the story of game, and indeed both teams’ respective tournaments, could be found within the performances of the sides’ captains. The evergreen Ahmed Hassan continued to dominate the midfield with his silky passing and solid, if underrated performance. Samuel Eto’o, on the other hand, appeared to be having trouble acclimatising to the expectations heaped upon him and his team-mates, and orbited the periphery of the match.

With deadlock the order of the second half, the tie progressed into extra time. But the mood changed at the beginning of extra time, as Geremi’s weary legs played a dangerous back pass which didn’t have the pace to reach his goalkeeper. And ‘super sub’ Mohamed Gedo latched onto the ball, before finishing tidily through Kameni’s legs. That was his third goal in this season’s tournament, despite him having not started a match.

Shehata has used Gedo in the role of ‘impact substitute’ to great effect

It didn’t take long for Hassan to round of the scoring, and the match, taking his personal result to ‘Egypt 2-1 Cameroon’. Cameroon will feel aggrieved, as television replays suggest the whole of the ball did not cross the line, but what they cannot argue is the fact that they were not at their best throughout the 120 minutes. But the disaster did not end there for the Indomitable Lions, as Aurelien Chedjou went on to receive a red card for a professional foul.

So it is the Pharaohs who earn a semi-final tie with fierce rivals Algeria. The last time these two sides met was in the recent World Cup playoff, which was followed by headlines of ‘machete-wielding crowds’.

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