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Egypt defeats Ivory Coast in pulsating cracker, sets up ¼ final fixture with Morocco

AFCON 2021

Egypt defeats Ivory Coast in pulsating cracker, sets up ¼ final fixture with Morocco

Isifu Wirfengla

Douala, Cameroon

Egypt has seen off Ivory Coast in a pulsating and highly entertaining match tonight in Japoma stadium – Douala, which most times sent cold trickles down fans’ spines.  

Carlos Queiroz’s men beat Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties to sail through to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations on course in central African nation Cameroon. Post-match penalties were needed to separate the sides after both failed to find the back of the net through 90 minutes to extra time.  

The 33rd Afcon has once more put bookmakers on the wrong side of prediction as Ivory Coast’s impressive group stage performance meant nothing in the face of rejuvenated Egypt.

Egyptians worked their magic with second choice goalkeeper Abou Gabal Ali, after a right-leg injury had El-Shennawy limping off minutes to fulltime.  

During Eric Bertrand Bailly’s spot kick, Abou Gabal Ali fell to the ground but his left hand stayed up to stop the Manchester United defender’s shot.

Egypt did it the hard way. Sometimes, it’s the result that matters, not the manner in which it was gotten.

The Pharaohs started their campaign slowly but found their feet when need arose in the middle of group D battles. They slipped 0-1 to Nigeria, and didn’t produce convincing results in their next couple of wins to match expectations and known pedigree.

Tonight’s victory however translates the experience garnered over the years, as well as a reminder that they remain Africa’s all-time best.

Fans were treated to quality soccer by some of Africa’s mercurial stars. Both sides pressed high and harder only goals were few and far between.  

Prior to kick-off, a minute of silence was observed to pay homage to the eight spectators who lost their lives at the stampede on Monday 24 January in Olembe, Yaounde.

A seesaw first half with both sides demonstrating defensive tact and attacking potential. Egypt was the first to fire bullets with Omar Marmoush’s long-range effort hitting the crossbar.

Salah followed up afterwards but was denied by Sangaré’s fingertips. Ivorians responded in like manner. Ibrahim Sangaré produced an acrobatic bicycle kick, but failed to beat El-Shennawy.

Back from the interval, unmarked Amro Elsoulia missed a glaring chance, Sangaré denying Mohamed Salah from a tight angle seconds after.

The second segment was another tale of mischances.

The Ivorians went into the game as favourites having topped group E unbeaten. Luck didn’t smile on coach Patrice Baumelle as him and boys head back to Abidjan.

It is not the first time Pharaohs are blocking Ivorians’ way in the Africa Cup of Nations finals. On their way to 5th Afcon title, the Pharaohs beat the Elephants in the 2006 final on penalties. Two years later for their 6th continental trophy, they knocked out the Ivorians in the semi-finals in Ghana 2008.

Ivory Coast, who have won the Afcon twice – in 1992 and 2015, will only be seen again when a fresh edition of the tournament takes off on their soil next year.

Mali versus Equatorial Guinea is ongoing in Limbe.

Mali finished top of group F with seven points, unbeaten. On their part, the Nzalang Nacional did the unthinkable when they beat title defenders Algeria, paving their way here.

The winner of this game will square up with Senegal in the quarters.

Isifu Wirfengla
Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Michael WIRFENGLA is holder of a Bsc. in Journalism and taking postgraduate studies in Information and Communication Sciences from the University of Yaounde 2. He has five years of broadcast experience. Apart from freelance/sports reporting, he is a trained, practising football referee in Cameroon.


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