Egypt emphatic in Kumasi

2008-02-08 07:12

Ghana - Reigning champions Egypt have set up a meeting with Cameroon in the final of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations by disposing of the Ivory Coast 4-1 in their semi-final in Kumasi on Thursday.

Despite the Ivorians dominating possession and chances, the Egyptians' quick counter-attack plan worked to perfection as goals from Ahmed Fathi, Amr Zaki (2) and Mohamed Aboutraika thrust them into the final. Kader Keita scored The Elephants only goal.

Salomon Kalou had a glorious chance to open the scoring on eight minutes as Arthur Boka delivered a free-kick that reached the Chelsea striker, but he somehow headed away from goal towards the penalty-spot, rather than troubling the keeper from three yards.

Didier Drogba did manage to get a shot on target two minutes later, but he was falling as he connected with the ball and it was a tame effort directly at Essam al-Hadary in the end.

But it was the Egyptians who took the lead as Fathi's 25-yard shot on 13 minutes was deflected past Boubacar Barry after hitting Kalou.

Great chance

Fathi almost gets a second on 25 minutes after a sweeping up-field move involving some intricate passing saw the ball lined-up for the wingback, and his first-time shot went whistling wide of the far post.

Drogba then missed a great chance when another superb Boka cross found him in the area, but his miss-hit shot was saved by Al-Hadary and the Egyptians were able to clear.

The Ivorians lost keeper Barry to injury eight minutes before the break, and he was replaced by Stephan Loboue, who plays in the German second division with SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

Boka caused trouble for a third time deep in first half injury time as his free-kick was scrambled away by Egypt. From the resultant corner Drogba's bullet header was straight at Al-Hadary - a foot either side and it would have been a goal - and Hosny Abd Rabou was able to clear from the boot of Aruna Dindane, who tried to pounce on the rebound.

And two minutes after halftime there is a repeat. Emmanuel Eboue's brilliant run and cross was latched onto by Drogba, who seemed destined to score with a header from three yards, but somehow Al-Hadary saved again from point-blank range.

Not surprisingly the match settled into a pattern of all-out attack from the Ivorians in the second period, with Egypt happy to sit back and protect what they had, with possibilities for them on the counter-attack.

Headed home

Al-Hadary had to be alert to palm another superb Boka free-kick over the bar on the hour-mark.

The Egyptians netted their second against the run of play on 62 minutes as Ahmed Hassan's corner was inadvertently flicked on by Didier Zokora into the path of Zaki, who headed home.

But the Ivorians got the goal their play deserved just a minute later as Kader Keita tucked in from the left and fired an absolute missile from 30-yards past Al-Hadary, who had no chance in stopping the shot.

But the two-goal advantage was restored on 67 minutes as Zaki twisted and turned Kolo Toure into submission, and drilled the ball past the helpless Loboue in the Ivorian goal.

Yaya Toure side-footed an excellent effort from the edge of the area that beat Al-Hadary all ends up, but also went inches wide of the goal post, perhaps confirming this was not to be The Elephants' evening.

Kolo Toure was the next to test Al-Hadary and his 35-yard stinging drive was tipped over by the Pharaohs stopper, while Boka connected with a sweet left-footed shot that the goalkeeper beat to safety.

The cherry on the cake for Egypt came two minutes into injury time as substitute Mohamed Zidan set up Aboutraika to find the top corner of the Ivorian net.

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