A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Pharaohs shutdown Ghana
The Pharaohs, who struggled to create many openings through the game, looked unlikely to score as the game drifted towards extra-time – until the Ittihad striker struck his fifth goal of the competition to break the resilience of their opponents.
It handed Hassan Shehata’s men a record seventh title and third in succession in Angola, but they were made to work hard for the success at the Estadio do Novembre 11 in Luanda.
Both teams were handed a boost before the start with Wael Gomaa and Emad Moteab passed fit for the Pharaohs and Richard Kingson, Agyeman Opoku and Hans Sarpei all included for the Black Stars.
There was little action to speak of at the start – an early corner from Kwadwo Asamoah catching out goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, while Egypt’s first half-chance came via a wayward strike over the top from captain Ahmed Hassan.
Andre Ayew then failed to punish the Pharaohs when Gomaa mistakenly headed into his path – the shot was dragged wide – as the early action changed nicely between both ends.
Although the Egyptians seemed to have more of the ball, their opponents seemed to be creating the better openings – Asamoah again illustrating this when his well-struck 20-yard strike forced El-Hadary into a tricky low catch.
Just past the half-hour mark the isolated Asamoah Gyan, who scored three of his side’s four goals in the competition, showed good trickery down the left, but had no-one to look for in the box.
Seconds from half-time, Hosny Abd Rabo’s searching free-kick from the right almost broke the deadlock, but Hassan and Moteab both missed the headed chance.
After the restart, Agyeman Opoku was lucky to get away with just a yellow card after diving in two-footed on Ahmed Al-Muhammadi.
The two sides did not seem overly keen to attack, though, with Gyan coming closest for his side after 51 minutes with a zipping 25-yard free-kick that flew inches over, followed by Ayew firing wide from the edge of the box.
Shehata had seen enough, sending on Mohamed Abdel-Shafy – who scored in the 4-0 win over Algeria – for Sayed Moawad.
His side began to threaten more, but still struggled to find real rhythm – Hossam Ghaly the latest to drag wide from distance – while a quickly taken free-kick from Anthony Annan almost saw Gyan catch out El-Hadary, only to drift wide.
When Moteab finally managed to steal behind the Ghana defence after the hour-mark he was quickly closed down by Kingson, before Shehata decided to thrown on the tournament’s leading marksman, Gedo, with 20 minutes remaining.
The game began to open up and Gyan should have found the target when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box, but he made amends with a testing 20-yard free-kick which forced the Egyptian goalkeeper to punch away.
Then came the decisive moment of the game with Gedo, cutting into the box from the left, playing a neat one-two with Mohamed Zidan and calmly arrowing the ball beyond Kingston to break Ghanaian hearts.
Milovan Rajevac’s men tried desperately to get the goal they needed but Asamoah and Eric Addo wasted good chances and the west Africans had to settle for second place.