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Africa’s Best

They have now won a record seventh Africa Cup of Nations titles, and have defended their double championship status with a 1-0 win against a determined young Ghanaian side in 2010’s final last Sunday. They defeated four World Cup-bound teams en route, namely Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana. They won all their group matches, matching like true kings to the final with all the other teams in awe. They are undoubtedly Africa’s best team. They are Egypt.

FIFA released the world rankings yesterday and the new standings are a true reflection of how much Egyptian football has risen over the course of the last few weeks. They are now ranked 10th in the whole world, their best ever ranking. They deservedly toppled Cameroon as Africa’s best based on the rankings by thrashing them 3-1 when the two teams met in the quarterfinals. I may have been wrong on other predictions, but I was spot on with this one.

In my post on the quarterfinals, I mentioned Ahmed Hassan’s improvement in every game and that he was becoming a threat in front of goal as well. The Egyptian captain proved me right by scoring two in the next game against Cameroon, even though one of the goals was a dubious one as the ball had not crossed the line. He was a fighter for the Egyptian team and controlled the entire midfield in all their games. He shouted orders to his teammates and despair was never written on his face, even when he scored an own goal to put his team 1-0 behind against Cameroon. He has now played 172 matches in Egyptian colours, thus becoming Africa’s most capped player. He turns 35 in May this year but continues to produce wonderful displays as ever.

Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagui. This is the name of the top scorer in Angola 2010. Surprisingly, he never started in all the games he played for Egypt during the tournament. He scored against Cameroon when Samuel Eto’o was unable to provide just that for this team. Believe it or not, he learnt about his inclusion in the Egyptian squad while browsing through football news on the internet. He never expected it. Now he has beaten proven goal-scorers like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Obafemi Martins, Mohamed Zidan and Freddie Kanoute to the Golden Boot. He is the super-sub who scored the championship winner against Ghana. He is undoubtedly the tournament’s new star, and while others like Kanoute have retired from international duties, Gedo’s stardom has just begun.

Mohamed Gedo celebrates after netting the winner against Ghana

Hassan Shehata has now led his nation to three Nations Cup titles in a row. He blends a mix of discipline and variety into the Egyptian team and narrowly lost out to Algeria’s Rabah Saadane for a place in the World Cup. He knew exactly when to bring in Gedo during the final. With the game approaching extra time, he unleashed the

super sub onto the pitch. Five minutes from time, Gedo played a nice pass to Zidan who set the ball rolling back to him and with Ghana’s defence in stitches, he scored the goal that ensured Egypt’s retention of the title they have won during the last two editions of the tournament. Shehata is now wanted by Nigeria to manage the Super Eagles during the World Cup in South Africa this summer. I bet he would do a great job with them as well, even though just on a short stint.

Africa’s best team may not be going to the World Cup, but they have shown the whole world what the tournament will be missing. The pharaohs are marching on, and it will take a Moses to stop them. Undisputed champions.

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