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Opinions of Sunday, 5 February 2017

Columnist: www.supersport.com

Big match feature: Egypt vs Cameroon

After three weeks of pulsating football and great goals, the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations is down to two teams who will contest the final on Sunday, 5 February, at the Stade Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will square up with the Pharaohs of Egypt in what is expected to be an exciting clash between two teams with different styles.

It will also be a repeat of the 2008 edition when Egypt defeated Cameroon 1-0 to lift the trophy. Mohammed Aboutrika’s goal was the difference between the two sides at the Dan Ohene Stadium in Accra.

Cameroon

Cameroon have been on a giant-killing run from the start of the tournament, as no one gave Hugo Broos and his charges a chance to make it to the final.

A spate of withdrawals before the start of the tournament meant Broos had to name arguably the most inexperienced Cameroon squad in recent times, but this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Lions navigated their way through a tough group that included hosts Gabon, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau.

At the end of the group stage, it took an inspired Fabrice Ondoa to keep the Lions in the hunt with some brilliant saves in the last group game against Gabon.

He kept the Panthers at bay and Cameroon earned the point they needed to qualify for the knock-out stages. They took a giant step towards the title when thy edged out pre-tournament favourites Senegal on penalty kicks and then saw off a strong Ghana side 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

The Indomitable Lions finished in second place in group A behind Burkina Faso on goal difference.

Record

Cameroon 1 (Moukandjo) Burkina Faso 1 (Issoufou Dayo)

Guinea-Bissau 1 (Bruno Silva Piqueti) Cameroon 2 (Sebastien Siani, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui)

Cameroon 0 Gabon 0

Cameroon 0 Senegal 0 AET. Cameroon won 5-4 on penalty kicks.

Cameroon 2 (Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Christian Bassogog) Ghana 0

Egypt

Egypt have come back strongly into the Africa Cup of Nations after a seven-year absence and will be looking to add another title to their already burgeoning Afcon trophy cabinet.

Hector Cuper’s side have been consistent throughout the tournament and bar the first group game against Mali, they have scored in every game they have played.

Egypt also have a mean defence legged by Ahmed Hegazi, Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Elmohamady and Amr Gabr, the combination has conceded only one goal in five matches - and remain the meanest defence in the tournament.

They came tops in group D ahead of Ghana (who placed second) Mali and Uganda. A slim 1-0 win over north African neighbours Morocco was followed up by a penalty shootout victory over an impressive Burkina Faso side.

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary was the hero of the day, stopping two kicks as Egypt romped their way to yet another final.

Record

Mali 0 Egypt 0

Egypt 1 (Abdallah Said) Uganda 0

Ghana 0 Egypt 1 (Mohammed Salah)

Egypt 1 (Mahmoud Momen ‘Kharaba’) Morocco 0

Burkina Faso 1 (Aristide Bance) Egypt 1 (Mohammed Salah) AET. Egypt won 4-3 on penalties.

Team news

Egypt are sweating on the fitness of Arsenal midfielder Mohammed Elneny, who is suffering from a calf strain, but he looks set to play.

Marwan Mohsen is unlikely to be involved while first choice goalkeeper Mohammed El-Shenawi, who limped off in the first group game against Mali, has been ruled out of the tournament.

Cameroon have no such issues as Broos has a full complement of his squad to choose from. However, he may have a selection headache on whom to start in attack.

Vincent Aboubakar brought some spark to the Cameroon attack when he came on in the semifinal against Ghana, and might have done enough to convince Broos to play him from the start.

What they said

"We want to go into this final and win it. For these young players – 14 of the 23 are playing at their first Cup of Nations – it is possibly a unique opportunity in their careers to win the trophy," .

"There will be enough motivation and inspiration there to make sure we are ready for Sunday."

Hugo Broos, Cameroon coach.

"It's a great way to end the competition in the final but it will be even better if we win the cup," said Elmohamady on Friday.

"We started the competition with one aim, to come back into the Cup of Nations and win it again. That's been our focus from the beginning."

Ahmed Elmohamady, Egypt defender

Players to watch

Mohammed Salah has not been exciting in this tournament but always pops up at the right moment to show what he is capable of doing.

His free-kick against Ghana gave his team the three points at stake in their group D game and he topped that up by scoring a beauty against Burkina-Faso in the semifinals.

Hector Cuper will rely heavily on the Roma forward in the final against Cameroon, hoping he will once again provide the goods for his side.

Christian Bassogog came into the tournament without any fanfare but will leave Gabon with his stock well appreciated. The wide-man has been instrumental in Cameroon’s successes in the Nations Cup thus far. Lightning quick and stockily built, his bursting runs down the flanks have yielded dividends for the Indomitable Lions and he has also chipped in with a goal in the tournament.

He worked his socks off in the game against Ghana, constantly peppering Ghana right-back Harrison Afful in the semifinals, and he capped that off by scoring the second goal that gave Cameroon a 2-0 win and a place in the final on Sunday.

Cameroon 0 vs Egypt 1 (Aboutrika, 77th minute)

Line-ups

Cameroon: Carlos Kameni, Geremi Njitap, Rigobert Song, Benoit Angbwa, Timothee Atouba, Alex Song, Stephane Mbia, Joel Apalle, Achille Emana, Allain N’Kong, Samuel Eto’o.

Egypt: Essam El-Hadary, Wael Gomaa, Hani Said, Shady Mohamed, Ahmed Fathy, Ahmed Hassan, Hosny, Sayed Moawad, Mohammed Aboutrika, Emad Moteab, Amr Zaki



Probable line-ups

Egypt: El Hadary; Elmohamady, Gabr, Fathi, Hegazy; Hamed, Hafez, Salah, Said; Trezeguet, Kahraba.

Cameroon:Ondoa; Mabouka, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Teikeu, Onyongo, N’jie, Mandjeck, Siani, Bassogog, Moukandjo, Aboubakar

Head to head

23 Feb 1983 Cameroon v Egypt 2-0 International Friendly

26 Feb 1983 Cameroon v Egypt 1-1 International Friendly

29 May 1983 Egypt v Cameroon 4-0 International Friendly

04 Mar 1984 Cameroon v Egypt 0-1 Africa Cup of Nations

03 Jul 1984 Egypt v Cameroon 2-1 International Friendly

03 Feb 1985 Cameroon v Egypt 1-0 International Friendly

06 Feb 1985 Cameroon v Egypt 0-0 International Friendly

29 Mar 1985 Egypt v Cameroon 2-1 International Friendly

31 Mar 1985 Egypt v Cameroon 2-1 International Friendly

21 Mar 1986 Egypt v Cameroon 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations

09 Aug 1987 Cameroon v Egypt 1-1 African Games

14 Mar 1988 Cameroon v Egypt 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations

01 Dec 1991 Egypt v Cameroon 1-1 International Friendly

20 Jul 1992 Cameroon v Egypt 0-1 International Friendly

23 Jul 1992 Cameroon v Egypt 0-1 International Friendly

16 Mar 1994 Egypt v Cameroon 0-0 International Friendly

18 Jan 1996 Cameroon v Egypt 2-1 Africa Cup of Nations

22 Dec 1997 Egypt v Cameroon 2-0 International Friendly

04 Feb 2002 Cameroon v Egypt 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations

03 Feb 2004 Cameroon v Egypt 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations

05 Sep 2004 Egypt v Cameroon 3-2 FIFA World Cup

07 Oct 2005 Cameroon v Egypt 1-1 FIFA World Cup

22 Jan 2008 Egypt v Cameroon 4-2 Africa Cup of Nations

10 Feb 2008 Cameroon v Egypt 0-1 Africa Cup of Nations

25 Jan 2010 Egypt v Cameroon L 3-1 Africa Cup of Nations

20 May 2012 Egypt v Cameroon 2-1 International Friendly