Egypt: Tame Drogba and win

2006-02-09 19:29
Cairo - Host Egypt will be looking to capitalise on their success and the relentless support of millions of fans in Friday's African Cup of Nations final.

First though, it must deal with Didier Drogba, Chelsea's prolific hitman and the Ivory Coast's outstanding player.

The Egyptians have had a seemingly straightforward path to the final, with the semi-final against Senegal considered the Pharaohs' toughest match so far.

The final will be a replay of a Jan 28 first-round encounter, when Egypt prevailed 3-1 to win Group A. In that match, Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel fielded a half-strength team, having already secured qualification to the quarterfinals.

Egypt will play the final without Tottenham's Mido, who was banned from representing his country for six months for dissent after he had a touchline row with coach Hassan Shehata over being substituted in the semi-final.

"In Egypt they are amateurs. The manager is an amateur, the team are amateurs, the association are amateurs," Mido was quoted as saying by the Daily Express in London.

"They think they know everything. People can call me an arrogant Premiership player. The fact is that I am a Premiership player and they are amateurs," added the 22-year-old striker, who performed below expectations.

"I have not spoken to Shehata since the incident. I don't care about him. He is a local guy. Before he was in charge of the national team, he managed a second division side.

They will be heroes

"I want to play for Egypt again, of course. But I don't regret what I did.

"I was disappointed by the decision to ban me. I don't know why they took it. If they win tomorrow now they can say they took a good disciplinary decision. They will be heroes. But if they lose it will be because of Mido, and the trouble he caused. That's how things go."

The Ivory Coast will face intense pressure at the 74 000-seat Cairo International Stadium and Drogba, who has scored three goals, will have to be at his best.

A win for the Elephants, who have only scored six goals in the tournament, compared with Egypt's 12, will justify their qualification to the World Cup finals in Germany later this year.

The team has missed Lens striker Aruna Dindane through the death of his daughter and subsequent injury.

But it has proved itself a worthy opponent of the tournament's toughest teams by overcoming Cameroon in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals and Nigeria on a Drogba goal in their semi-final.

The Chelsea forward has provided most of the Elephants' firepower, grabbing three of the goals, backed up PSV Eindhoven striker Aruna Kone.

Goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie has also been vital in covering defensive gaps, his replacement through injury in the group game against Egypt leading to a 3-1 defeat.

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