And believe it or not, it’s a surprise to many. That’s odd considering it is the defending champions – Egypt – vs. Cameroon, a common participant in the African Cup of Nations final.
Think about the strength and consistency of both Ivory Coast and Ghana this tournament. Ghana had the host nation effect working for it, while Ivory Coast seemed to pick apart each defense it went up against with a blend of established attacking defenders in Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, a big target man in Didier Drogba, defensive strength in the midfield – Yaya Toure and Dider Zokora, and a creative force in the middle – Salomon Kalou. A 4-1 loss to Egypt is not what people expected…
EGYPT 4, IVORY COAST 1 – ANC Semifinal
The Pharaohs took advantage of a 12th minute strike from Ahmed Fathi to effectively cancel out any momentum the Ivory Coast might have had coming into this game. It looked to anger Drogba and his teammates as they started pouring on the pressure, but Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadari kept the game 1-0 by stopping Drogba on three separate occasions. Egypt then took control after half-time – playing a frustrating perimeter game – which would allow the wing midfielders to crack shots from the outside testing sub goalkeeper Stephan Loboue who came on for injured starting keeper Boubacar Barry before halftime. El Hadari continued to hold Drogba and company at bay, until Egypt – led by Amr Zaki – finally broke through. Zaki put one in off the crossbar after yet another poorly defender corner kick. Lyon’s Kader Keita pulled one back less than a minute later to briefly surprise the Egyptian defense. But Zaki stood tall and this time finished an individual effort off yet another post to give Egypt that 2 goal lead again and in the process frustrate Ivory Coast’s attempts to get back in the game. The game was clinched when Mohamed Zidan – otherwise quiet all game – broke free and found Mohamed Aboutriaka wide open enough to put the ball in the back of the net and put Egypt back in the finals.