Year of the Pharaohs
THREE WEEKS of fierce competition involving 16 African nations came to an end last weekend with hosts Egypt running out the convincing winners.
The ”Pharaohs” began the championships well, topping Group A, beating Libya and eventual finalists Ivory Coast easily, while drawing with Morocco. Quarter-final opponents Congo were dismissed 4-1, Senegal put up stiffer resistance in the semis, but still went down 2-1.
The Didier Drogba inspired Ivory Coast took the final to the wire, Egypt winning 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes. Nigeria beat Senegal 1-0 to claim third place. World Cup finalists Angola and Togo disappointed, failing to progress from Group B, while Ghana could only finish third in Group D. Former winners of the competition and 2010 World Cup hosts, South Africa, fared even worse, failing to score a single goal. Egypt has now won the African Championships a record five times, but suffered its share of controversy when the substituted superstar Mido traded insults with coach Hassan Shehata, subsequently being banned from the national side for six months. Egyptian captain Ahmed Hasan was named player of the tournament, and Nigeria’s John Mikel Obi received the best young talent award.