Home Sports Al Hadary hails Egypt team for winning Africa Cup of Nations title

Al Hadary hails Egypt team for winning Africa Cup of Nations title


Luanda (Angola) : Egyptian goalkeeper Essam Al Hadary Sunday hailed the Pharaohs, who had just made history by becoming the first team to win three successive Africa Cup of Nations titles, as the best Egyptian team ever.

Super-sub Mohamed Nagui, who finished the tournament’s top scorer with five goals – all scored coming off the bench – scored five minutes from the end to give his side a 1-0 victory against Ghana Sunday.

“This is the best team. The reason why is that we have good coaches and we have good players. We feel as one big family.”

Al Hadary, who also played in Egypt’s 2006 and 2008 winning teams, said that they had set themselves a target. “That target was winning the tournaments and we managed to do that. That makes me very happy.”

Ghana coach Milovan Bajevac said that he felt the goal came at the worst possible time for his side. “I thought we were in control and we were gearing ourselves for extra-time.

“I had not seen the need to make any substitutions at that stage as I was keeping players for extra-time. I then was going to bring on a substitute when they scored.”

He defended his decision to take off striker Asamoah Gyan, who until that time had been the Black Stars’ most lively forward. “Gyan was very tired and I wanted to bring on a young fast striker and I wanted to surprise the Egyptians.”

Disappointingly at the start of the match there were only some 35,000 spectators in the 55,000-seater Estadio Do 11 Novembre, amongst them the Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the president of football’s governing body FIFA Joseph Blatter and Issa Hayatou, who heads the African confederation CAF.

Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata had to make one change to the side that thrashed Algeria 4-0 in the semi-finals, with Hossam Ghaly coming in for the suspended Mahmoud Fathalla.

There was good news for Bajevac, who could call on captain and goalkeeper Richard Kingson, whose appearance in the final had been in jeopardy through an injury.

The Serbian fielded the same team that advanced to the final after beating Nigeria 1-0 in semi-finals.

Like in that game, Ghana started the match defensively, playing four at the back and waiting for the break, thus making it very difficult for the Pharaohs to find a way through.

Neither side created any decent chances in the early stage of the game, with the West Africans coming closest midway through the first half with a long-range effort from Kwado Asamoah, that flew straight at Al Hadary though.

Although the North Africans enjoyed most of the early possession, they did not have a real sight of goal and the sides thus changes halves with the score still goalless.

The second half began as the first had been been played throughout with Ghana concentrating on trying to break the Egyptian play down.

In doing so they at times were overly robust and shortly after the restart Agyemang Opoku was the first player to be booked after a clumsy two-footed tackle on Ahmed Al Muhammadi.

The Egyptian himself went into referee Koman Coulibaly’s book a few minutes later when he pushed Opoko.

As the Pharaohs were finding it more and more difficult to break down the Ghanaians’ defensive wall, the Black Stars got into the match better and started looking dangerous, with Gyan putting the Egyptian backline under some pressure.

In the 68th minute, Emad Motaeb came close to giving his side the lead when he was sent into the Ghana area, but just failed to reach the ball before goalkeeper Kingson collected.

With 20 minutes to go, Shehata threw on Nagui, who was to change the game.

Gyan came close for Ghana in the 78th minute with a free kick from well outside the area, which El Hadary punched away for a corner.

With the crowd, which at this stage had swelled to near capacity, getting behind the West Africans, the side became a bit more industrious, pushing men forward in search of an opening goal.

But the Ghanaians were not rewarded for their efforts as Nagui scored with a well-executed side-footed shot into Kingson’s far corner after playing a one-two with Mohamed Zidan in the 85th minute.

There was a last chance for the Black Stars to equalize in injury time, but Eric Addo just failed to connect with a ball that had been played across the goalmouth.

Seconds later, Coulibaly blew the final whistle, turning the Pharaoh’s into the Kings of Africa.