Egypt out to de­fend African cham­pi­ons sta­tus

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

LUANDA: Egypt turned up for the Africa Cup of Na­tions in An­gola with only one in­ten­tion, to de­fend their sta­tus as African cham­pi­ons, and by any as­sess­ment they’ve made a good fist of achiev­ing that aim.

Thurs­day’s 4-0 de­feat of Al­ge­ria put the six-time cham­pi­ons into to­mor­row’s fi­nal against a Ghana­ian side that has over­come a spate of in­juries to star play­ers to make their first fi­nal in 18 years.

One of Egypt’s goalscor­ers in Benguela, Mo­hamed Zi­dan, said: “We were one mil­lion times bet­ter than Al­ge­ria. We haven’t won five games in this com­pe­ti­tion to lose the fi­nal.”

Cap­tain Ahmed Has­san, in his 171st in­ter­na­tional, warned Ghana to ex­pect more of the same silky smooth foot­ball from the kings of Africa.

“Against Ghana we will con­tinue to play as we have started. We don’t care how they play, we are here to de­fend our ti­tle, and we’ll do ev­ery­thing to suc­ceed.

“We don’t care about the World Cup and los­ing the play­off to Al­ge­ria, we put our­selves in that po­si­tion af­ter drop­ping two points against Zam­bia in an ear­lier qual­i­fier.

“Any­way we are now see­ing the fruits of our ef­fort here.”

Egypt coach Has­san She­hata was purring over the Pharoahs’ lat­est per­for­mance.

“We re­tained our dig­nity with this win, we proved our strong im­age. I tried to do the best with the play­ers I’ve got (Egypt like Ghana are miss­ing some key play­ers to in­jury).”

To­mor­row’s cli­max will be a fas­ci­nat­ing clash be­tween the cham­pi­ons whose de­fence and at­tack is rock solid and the Black Stars’ mix of Un­der-20 world cham­pi­ons thrust into the spot­light and a smat­ter­ing of ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

Egypt, un­beaten in the Africa Cup of Na­tions now for a record 18 games, ar­rived in Luanda from Benguela yes­ter­day, with a train­ing ses­sion planned for to­day.

Ghana are al­ready in town and trained yes­ter­day morn­ing as Serb coach Milo­van Ra­je­vic maps out his blue­print to top­ple the con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­ons for what would be the west African coun­try’s fifth ti­tle.

De­spite Ghana’s su­perb run to the fi­nal it is Egypt who will start as hot favourites.

Egypt as­sis­tant coach Shawky Gharib com­mented:

“The Ghana team are very strong, they are go­ing to the World Cup.”

A World Cup that will be sadly on the ev­i­dence of their im­pe­ri­ous run to to­mor­row’s fi­nal – 14 goals to two con­ceded, the only side un­beaten af­ter five games – be miss­ing Egypt.

“We have fin­ished all our five games in An­gola with vic­to­ries and have played three World Cup qual­i­fiers (Nige­ria 3-1, Cameroon 3-1, Al­ge­ria 4-0), scor­ing 10 goals,” noted Gharib.

“We won our games be­cause of the strate­gies that we planned and used. We also planned well on how to han­dle each op­po­nent since the start of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“Now we are due to meet an­other team go­ing to South Africa in Ghana, they are one of the strong­est teams here.” – Sapa-AFP

PURRING: Egypt coach Has­san She­hata cel­e­brates the 4-0 semi-fi­nal victory over Al­ge­ria.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.