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El-Hadary’s heroics send Egypt to AFCON 2017 final


Photo: Aminah Babirye

Egypt reached the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of the Nations in Gabon, after beating 4-3 on penalties on Wednesday.

Egypt and Burkina Faso were still tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes, with Mohamed Salah opening the scoring for the Pharaohs in the 66th minute and Aristide Bance scoring the equaliser seven minutes later.

Burkina Faso looked more dangerous than the Pharaohs in the early stages of the game, as Abdou Razack Traore, Toure and Nakoulma tried their luck in the first 10 minutes but veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary denied them.

Egypt’s first real opportunity came a little bit late as Trezeguet fired from a long range after 18 minutes, but his curler went inches wide of the target.

On the other end, the battle between Bance and Hegazy was shaping up, as the Egyptian defender kept the Burkinabe on check every time.

Ittihad Jeddah’s Mahmoud Kahraba had a penalty appeal waved away by the Gambian referee, after he went down in the box before halftime. Seven minutes to the break, Kahraba’s shot took a bounce and almost fooled Koffi, but the goalkeeper recalculated successfully to make the save.

After the break, Burkina Faso continued with their dominance, winning a couple of free-kicks in better positions but were wasteful.

Ten minutes into the second half, Kahraba was booked for elbowing Bertrand Traore, which ruled him out of the final for accumulation of yellow cards.

Moments later, Elmohamady created some space on the right flank after a daunting run, then crossed the ball into the area to Kahraba who laid the ball to Salah and the latter fired home into the top corner of the net to break the deadlock.

However, Bance, who was left unmarked in the box, equalised seven minutes later as he chested down Charles Kabore’s cross and beat El-Hadary. This was the first time Egypt conceded a goal in the tournament.

Five minutes from time, Egypt manager Hector Cuper brought on Ramadan Sobhi to replace Trezeguet, ten minutes after Amr Warda came on instead of Mahmoud Kahraba.

Burkina Faso wasted several opportunities as the game went into extra time, when Hector Cúper introduced Omar Gaber for Elmohamady. Both sides could not find the winner, sending the game to a penalty shootout.

El-Said failed to convert the first penalty before Sobhi and Hegazy scored for Egypt, while Alain Traore, Diawara and Yago all converted for Bukrina Faso.

Salah then scored for Egypt to make it 3-3 before Hadary denied Herve Koffi. Warda converted Egypt’s final penalty and Hadary saved Bertrand Traoré’s shot to secure a 4-3 penalty win.

The record seven-time African champions will play the final on Sunday against the winner of the other semi-final between Cameroon and Ghana.

An African football Journalist based in Livingstone, Zambia.

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