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Egyptian National Team

Essam El-Hadary predicted saving the final two penalties

Essam El-Hadary

Photo: Aminah Babirye

Essam El-Hadary, Egypt national team legendary veteran goalkeeper, spoke about his heroic penalty saves in the semi-final encounter against Burkina Faso on Wednesday helping the Pharaohs qualify to the final match of the 2017 African Cup of Nations.

The national team led the match after AS Roma Mohamed Salah shot a ball into the top corner of the net in the second half. However, Egypt’s lead did not last long as they conceded a goal in the tournament for the first time after Banse was left unmarked in the box.

Following a tiring extra time, both teams inevitably headed to the penalty shootouts with all hopes on El-Hadary to lift the team to final match. “I had a feeling that I was going to save the final two penalties, wasn’t really sure about the first three actually,” The 45-year-old goalie told beIN Sports TV channel after the game.

El-Hadary said that as he went to the shootouts, the 2006 AFCON victory loomed as Egypt won the final match after defeating Ivory Coast in penalties. Even though Abdallah El-Said missed the first penalty kick giving Burkina an important advantage, the veteran goalkeeper with his calmness and experience was able to remarkably block the last two penalties from the Stallions keeper Herve Koffi and Bertrand Traore.

“We played the game in very difficult circumstances, playing our second game just 48 hours after facing Morocco. The humidity also was terrible. Moreover, we have numerous injury absences; we hope Mohamed Elneny and Mohamed Abdel-Shafi would be available for the final,” he added.

The oldest player to compete at a major championship thanked the technical staff and his teammates for their efforts in the match. “Hats off to all the players and management for their combative spirit, their insistence and great determination.”

Egypt’s captain will be aiming for his fifth title after winning the tournament in 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010 on Sunday as the Pharaohs will face either Ghana or Cameroon in the final game of the AFCON.

In addition to being a hardcore football fan, Abdelrahman is a communications enthusiast who works in marketing, advertising, content creation and PR.

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