As two of the most successful countries in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations-Egypt and Cameroun go head to head, the pharaohs would be hoping that history would repeat itself, while the Indomitable Lions would be craving to break the Egyptians jinx
The Egyptians carted away the trophy in 1986 and 2008, both at the expense of the Camerounians, and the Lions would be bent to avenge the two defeats, to increase their trophy haul to five.
The two continent’s football powerhouses, will face off in the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations at Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, Gabon, on Sunday night.
Cameroun have been one of the surprise packages of the 2017 edition, shrugging off the absence of several major stars to power past some of the tournament’s strongest teams in their path to the final.
The Indomitable Lions will see the match against Egypt as a chance for revenge: they were beaten 1-0 by the Pharaohs in the final of the 2008 in Ghana.
“Egypt are a big team, they have won seven titles and showed a very good performance so far. But we are determined to win to avenge our defeat in the 2008 final,” explained defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui.
“A lot of people didn’t believe in us. We didn’t think that we can go so far in the competition but now we want to win the title.”
Egypt, meanwhile, have re-established themselves as a giant of African football in their path to the final, topping their group ahead of Ghana, beating North African rivals Morocco for the first time in over three decades in the quarterfinal, and then overcoming a powerful Burkina Faso on penalties in the semi.
The Pharaohs haven’t necessarily dominated their matches, but a resilient defence (just one goal conceded in Gabon), breathtaking pace on the counter attack and a canny nous at set pieces has helped them look the archetypal ‘tournament’ team at this Afcon.
The only question now is whether Hector Cuper can break his finals jinx: the Argentina notably lost three major European finals at the helm of Real Mallorca and Valencia. “Despite my bad luck in the finals, I am optimistic this time with Egypt,” Cuper has explained.
The Egypt coach may well be able to welcome back Mohamed Elneny from injury, but will definitely be without Mohamed Abdel Shafy to injury and the mercurial Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ to suspension. Ahmed El Shenawy, Marwan Mousa and Ahmed ‘Koka’ are also doubtful.
In head-to-head stats, Egypt and Cameroon have clashed in 24 official matches according to FIFA statistics. The North Africans have claimed 12 wins compared to five for their opponents, while seven matches have been drawn.
The teams’ most recent meeting took place in Omdurman, Sudan, in May, 2012. The Pharaohs claimed a 2-1 victory over the Indomitable Lions.
Meanwhile, in the third place encounter, the Black Stars of Ghana are out to restore their pride and finish as No 3 in the when they meet Burkina Faso today at Stade de Port-Gentil.
Avram Grant will now ensure his team is refreshed for the third place tie and they have to put their disappointment in losing the semifinal 2-0 to Cameroun on Thursday behind them.
Although they dominated parts of the game against the Indomitable Lions, their failure to finish in front of goal was their let down. The Black Stars have been labelled as favourites to lift the coveted trophy, but will now have to fight harder to finish as bronze winners. Having started their Group C campaign on a high with two wins, they failed to finish as winners as they lost to finalists Egypt in their last group match.
However, Grant led his side to a decent run as they beat Democratic Republic of Congo in the quarterfinals, raising their hopes for a final spot. Against Hugo Broos’ men, Ghana failed to ignite as they missed many chances to grab the lead, allowing the Indomitable Lions to clinch a 2-0 win.
Looking at Burkina Faso, the Stallions are also hungry for a third-place finish and will now hope to continue doing well in Gabon.
Coming from a penalty shootout loss against Hector Cuper’s Egypt in the semifinals, Burkina Faso will hope to stun the Ghanaians.
Under the guidance of Coach Paulo Duarte, the Stallions have defied all odds and managed to progress through to the last eight of the tournament.
In the group stages, the Stallions won Group A with five points from three matches, they went on to beat Tunisia 2-0 in the quarterfinal before losing to Egypt in the last eight. Having done so, they have built a giant-killing reputation which will push Ghana to remain vigilant and expect surprises.
Striker Aristide Bance has been a great revelation for the team, together with skipper Charles Kabore and Prejuce Nakoulma.
In the wake of their loss to the Pharaohs, midfielder Razack Traore admitted that the result was painful, but said they win and lose as a team.
“They missed the penalties but it is like we all missed the penalties. We lose together and we win today. It is the team that missed the penalty. We are really disappointed today because we played good football. We tried everything today but that is football,” Traore told the media.