In what was a hugely nervy affair between two African heavyweights on Thursday night, Egypt sent this year’s AFCON hosts packing as they managed to extend on their remarkable winning run from the penalty spot.
Eventually booking their place in the final and a showdown with Senegal for this weekend, the Pharaohs victory against Cameroon in Yaoundé will certainly be remembered as one of the most fruitful nights of Carlos Queiroz’s tenure in charge.
Looking to break only more Africa Cup of Nations records on Sunday night, we have taken a look at the key talking points as Egypt stunned the Olembe Stadium in another AFCON thriller.
Egypt come through another penalty thriller
Heavily outplayed throughout the whole first-half and failing to ask any real questions of the AFCON hosts, all signs were pointing towards what could quickly turn into a tough night’s work in Yaoundé.
However, with one-time Manchester United coach Carlos Queiroz clearly cutting a frustrated figure and knowing that his side were really riding their luck, the Pharaohs must be praised for the adjustments they made after returning from the break.
Clearly not hindered by the vocal Cameroon support in the Olembe Stadium, Egypt put in another gritty display that has seen them gain plenty of plaudits at this year’s tournament.
With Liverpool icon Mohamed Salah almost going close to opening the scoring before André Onana pinched the ball off his toes, Thursday’s guests certainly looked more settled when the prospect of penalties once again came about.
Remarkably, along with knocking out fellow African giants the Ivory Coast from 12 yards out on January 26th, Queiroz’s men have in fact now won each of their three knockout appearances at this year’s tournament from the penalty spot.
With Queiroz shown a pair of bookings from the sidelines and given his marching orders by referee Bakary Gassama late into the second-half, Egypt will be riding a real wave when they leave Yaoundé ahead of Sunday’s final.
Cameroon’s journey comes to an end
Booking their spot in Thursday’s semi-final thanks to a routine 2-0 win against Gambia, it was no secret that many across Africa thought that Cameroon would dispatch of the Pharaohs on home soil.
However, while Toni Conceição’s men might have been backed by a vocal home support in Yaoundé, the five-time AFCON champions failed to build off of what was a stellar first-half display.
With Cameroon hero Samuel Eto’o watching on from the stands, the Greens went within inches of opening the scoring after just 17 minutes as Gent defender Michael Ngadeu saw his header rebound off the crossbar.
Nevertheless, despite dominating the majority of the first-half, attacking talisman and leading marksman Vincent Aboubakar failed to get much of a foothold in proceedings and cut a frustrated figure up top.
Almost looking like they had run out of energy after returning from the break and failing to ask any questions of Egypt’s deputy keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal, pressure will now undoubtedly fall on Conceição’s shoulders.
Electing to leave Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting on the bench and not call upon him at any point, Cameroon will have to quickly dust themselves down before a bronze medal meeting against Burkina Faso this weekend.
While fans around the Olembe Stadium might have been sat on the edge of their seats throughout extra-time, there is no doubt that Senegal would have been watching on from home relishing their additional break.
Breezing their way to Sunday’s final after landing a routine 3-1 win against Burkina Faso 24 hours prior, neutral fans from across the globe will also have the chance to see Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane go head-to-head this weekend.
Likely to still be riding a real wave after knocking out this year’s hosts on Thursday night in their own backyard, Egypt will now have their sights firmly set on making more AFCON history.
Already lifting seven African titles since claiming their maiden crown over six decades ago, the Pharaohs now have a chance to end what has been somewhat of a baron run as a victory on Sunday would be their first title since 2010.
Now coming past the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Cameroon from the penalty spot in each of their knockout appearances, luck certainly appears to be on Egypt’s side this month.
Cameroon: Onana, Castelletto, Ngadeu, Tolo, Hongla, Oum Gouet, Zambo Anguissa, Fai, Moumi Ngamaleu, Aboubakar, Toko Ekambi
Subs: N’Jiea, Léa Siliki, Bassogog, Moukoudi, Onana
Egypt: Abou Gabal Ali, Abdel Wahed, Abdelmonem, Hamdi, Mohamed, El Soleya, Abdul Fattah, Elneny, Salah, Ahmed Abdallah, Marmoush
Subs: Abdelghany, Ahmed Abdelmonem, Trézéguet, Sobhi, Zizo
Yellow Cards: Cameroon: Oum Gouet – Egypt: Abdel Wahed, Elneny
Red Cards: Carlos Queiroz (not on pitch)
Referee: Bakary Gassama