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AFCON 2021: Egypt edge host Cameroon on penalty kicks to reach final



Seven-time champions Egypt will meet the Teranga Lions of Senegal in the final match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Sunday in Yaounde.

This was after the Pharaohs on Thursday edged hosts Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 3-1 on penalty kicks shootout following a goalless draw after extra time.

Goalkeeper Abou Gabal was the hero for the Egyptians, after he pulled off two spectacular saves from both Harold Moukoudi and James Lea-Siliki in the shootout at the Olembe Stadium.

Cameroon converted only one of their four penalty kicks, while Egypt converted all three of theirs.

Gabal blocked two of the kicks before Clinton Njie blazed wide Cameroon’s last chance to keep their dream alive.

Salah, usually the fifth penalty kick-taker for his country, was then not needed as Egypt advanced to a final match showdown against Senegal at the Olembe Stadium on Sunday.

Egypt will now be aiming to win a record-extending eighth AFCON title when they face Senegal in Sunday’s final.

The clash will see Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane play against each other as the Terenga Lions of Senegal continue their search for their first title.

But the Pharaohs will be without coach Carlos Queiroz, who is suspended for the final after being sent off by the referee towards the end of the second half on Thursday.

The second semi-final match itself delivered few highlights, played on a heavy pitch that sapped the energy out of the players.

But Egypt could have won in dramatic style in the last minute of extra time.

This was when Ramadan Sobhi whipped in a cross from the right that had three teammates attempting to get on the end of it, but all missing out on providing a decisive touch.

Cameroon centre-back Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui had the best chance of a first half that was low on tempo, high on ball turnover and short on opportunity.

The big defender hit the crossbar with a header from a corner-kick after 18 minutes and then miscued an opportunity from the set-piece that followed straight after.

Karl Toko Ekambi might have also found the net in the first period for the hosts but his 32nd minute effort lacked power and looped up for goalkeeper Abou Gabal to comfortably catch.

A rasping second half strike from Cameroon’s Samuel Oum Gouet also shaved the bar.

But the game seemed destined for penalty kicks as both sides failed to put together any effective passing moves.

The defeat comes as a major blow to the hosts, whose troubled tournament was overshadowed by the stadium crush that led to eight deaths last week.

Thursday’s match was the first game back at the Olembe Stadium since last week’s tragedy.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) had moved one of the weekend quarter-finals from the venue while seeking assurances of improved security from the Cameroonian authorities.

Cameroon, meanwhile, see their hopes of AFCON glory on home soil ended in cruel fashion, and they must still get through a third-place play-off against Burkina Faso on Saturday.

assu today

Victor Okoye

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