CAN 2008: Egypt CAN 2008 Champions

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The Pharaohs of Egypt retained Africa’s most coveted football trophy when they defeated Cameroon 1-0 in the final match of the 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Accra on Sunday.

Mohamed Aboutrika scored the only goal of the match when he stroked the ball into the net after picking a pass from a sprawling Mohamed Zidan.

It was a gift of a goal, dished out by the skipper of the Cameroonian Lions, Rigobert Song, who toyed with a harmless ball and allowed Zidan enough time to close him down.

The Egyptian striker contested the ball fiercely with Song and succeeded in stealing it from him as both of them went down on top of the box. The fitter Zidan gained the upper hand and took possession, before passing to an arriving Aboutrika to pull the trigger. It was a gift goal indeed.

Playing at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium before a noisy crowd of 35, 500, the Egyptians dominated the match but met a steel resistance from the Cameroonians, who massed in defence frequently to ward off attack.

Goalkeeper Idriss Kameni was in excellent shape to deny Egypt a goal on numerous occasions. Kameni produced sterling saves from Mohamed Aboutrika on 13 minutes and conjured another double save to keep the game open. Cameroon played a lone Samuel Eto’o Fils upfront, hoping to provide him with an opportunity to sprint forward and cause havoc but the Egyptians policed him very effectively to neutralize his ambition. Indeed, Eto’o was a mere passenger in the match and one wonders why coach Otto Pfister kept him on till full time.

Egypt nearly took the lead on the hour mark but Abd Rabou’s header hit the post with Kameni far away from it.

With about five minutes to the end of regulation time, Cameroon threw more men forward and played in the defensive third of the Egyptians but their best chance fell to substitute, Mohamadou Idrissou who fired over the bar.

Despite his lack of form, Eto’ received the highest goal scorers’ award with the tally of five that he carried into the game, while Abdel Moteleb of Egypt was the man of the match.

CAF President Issa Hayatou, a Cameroonian, decorated the Lions with silver medals, while FIFA president Sepp Blatter presented the gold medals to the Egyptians.

Ghanaian president John Agyekum Kufuor handed the glittering gold trophy to Ahmed Hassan, captain of the Egyptian side.

CAN 2008  Teams representing 47 countries are split into 12 groups of four. The best team from each group automatically qualifies to take part in the 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations football competition which takes place in Ghana.
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