Cameroon 0-1 Egypt – A Pharaoh Triumph: Egypt Win Their Sixth African Cup of Nations

Cameroon 0-1 Egypt - Pharaohs Make It Six: the African Cup of Nations is Theirs!

When the 2008 African Cup of Nations began on January 20, few would have put any serious amount of money on Egypt as tournament winners. Despite entering the competition as title holders, the Pharaohs were ranked 6th in the outright betting charts (odds 14/1), far behind big-name favorites such as Ghana (3/1), Ivory Coast (7/2), and Cameroon (6/1).

Yet despite the unfavorable pre-tournament odds, the Egyptians really surprised everyone match after match, displaying a disciplined tactical organization, a great spirit of teamwork and sacrifice, as well as a newfound glory for their iconic goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari. In the end, it doesn’t matter much if their victory in the ACN final stemmed from a tremendous defensive blunder: over the course of playoffs and the tournament as a whole, the Egyptian Pharaohs deserved their 2008 African Cup of Nations trophy, the record-breaking sixth title of their history.

After a short presentation ceremony, Egypt are crowned Africa Cup of Nations champions for a record sixth time

African Cup of Nations Final - Cameroon 0-1 Egypt

Tactically, Egypt is the team which at end of this tournament demonstrated the most rational and organized approach to a line-up formation: a 3-4-1-2 tactic that manager Hassan Shehata never modified since game 1, instead utilizing his roster to the best of its potential and inserting his key players when time required. The best three examples of this approach can be found with captain Ahmed Hassan (suspended for the first two games, slowly making his way into the starting line-up), Mohamed Aboutreika (author of the winning goal today, despite not being in the best physical shape at the start of the tournament), and Mohamed Zidan (recovering from injury during the playoff stage, he was the author of the assist for Aboutreika’s goal).

Not to be outdone by the Cameroon ‘rivals’, the Pharaohs’ smaller band of travelling supporters do their best to add to the atmosphereIn a team that has made teamwork its main weapon of choice (lacking a “star” player in the traditional sense of the word, unlike Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, Ghana’s Michael Essien, or Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o), each individual’s contribution to the team effort was capital: from the timely runs forward of wingers Ahmed Fathi and Sayed Moawad, to the attentive Egyptian defense lead by the best goalkeeper of the tournament, 35 year-old Essam El-Hadary.

On the other end, Indomitable Lions’ coach Otto Pfister chose a more traditional approach to the game with a “safe” 4-4-2 formation, lead by the the expert hands of Idriss Carlos Kameni in net and the experience of center-back captain Rigobert Song (author of an excellent ACN tournament… until tonight that is). The German coach’s plan was to base the game on physical power (Cameroon’s superior ability) and defensive tactics, hoping that a few well-adjusted stabs of Samuel Eto’o, supported by the likes of Achille Emana, Joël Epalle, Alexandre Song, and semi-final hero Alain Nkong (who partnered up with the Barça striker in attack) were going to be a winning strategy.

Excited fans of the Indomitable Lions arrive at Accra’s Ohene Djan Stadium ahead of the big gameUnfortunately, none of these players would prove decisive today (with the exception of captain Song, for other unglorious reasons). Song’s nephew Alexandre would be forced to an early substitution in minute 15 (muscular injury), Emana would surprise many viewers today with gross mistakes (for a player of his level) in control & passing distribution, while Nkong (much like Eto’o) would be largely unproductive the entire match (also because of the pressure applied by the attentive Egyptian defense).

After the first 45 minutes of the match came to a close, it was fairly evident that one team was dominating the other, not necessarily in terms of an overwhelming amount of scoring chances (quite the contrary in fact), but rather in terms of ball possession. Egypt’s collective movement allowed the Pharaohs to get much nearer their opponents’ net than Cameroon, and as a result the few opportunities the first half did create, came essentially in favor of Hassan Shehata’s side.

The first half ends without there being any goals, largely thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Idriss KameniAmong the chances worth mentioning: a 35-yard shot by Aboutreika in minute 13 (pushed around the post by Kameni), two back-to-back chances for Moteab and Aboutreika (respectively parried away and wide), and an excellent Moteab chance inside the area (9 minutes before half-time), on which Kameni summoned his best reflexes to keep the score goalless. Cameroon in all of this? A timid Geremi instep free-kick, accurate and well-placed but with not enough power to worry Al-Hadari.

Cameroon came back from the break with purpose, causing the tempo of the match to increase, but Egypt quickly took control of the game again. Kameni had to make two more fine saves, from a close-range Amr Zaki shot, then from Hosni Abd-Rabou’s 25-yard cracker. If there was anyone keeping the Indomitable Lion boat afloat today, it was the Espanyol goalkeeper.

The deadlock ends in the 77th minute when Song’s error allows Mohamed Zidan to find Aboutrika who sidefoots homeThe Pharaohs continued to pile on pressure, eventually obtaining their single best chance on net yet: in minute 61, an Aboutreika cross from the right wing found an unmarked Hosni inside the box, but the header of the Ismaily SC midfielder (who will probably now be destined for Europe, on account of his excellent performances in the tournament), hit the base of the post and went wide.

With 13 minutes remaining, Egypt finally got the goal they deserved, but not without some great help of Cameroon captain Rigobert Song who paid a heavy price for his untidy defending. Intercepting an Egyptian pass from the right wing, the ex-Liverpool and West Ham defender controlled the ball awkwardly and eventually ended up losing it in a battle with Mohamed Zidan. A battle which brought the pair all the way back to Cameroon’s penalty box, i.e. the danger zone. By the time the other Cameroon center-back arrived to help out, Zidan managed to poke the ball across goal for a now completely unmarked Mohamed Aboutreika. The Al-Ahly midfielder armed a precise instep finish low into the bottom right corner, putting his team in the lead! 1-0 Egypt.

Cameroon are allowed a lot of possession in the closing stages but they do nothing with it as Egypt hang on for the winAs Egypt celebrated, Song covered his face with his shirt, knowing that he should have cleared the ball away. He had a half-chance to redeem himself minutes later, when he found himself in good position for a headed finish on Geremi’s right-wing cross, but alas his effort ended over the bar.

As the referee called full time, it was a triumph for the Egyptian team and coach Hassan Shehata, who became only the second coach to win successive trophies (the first being Ghana’s CK Gyamfi, who won the tournament in 1963 and 1965). The Pharaohs, who now hold the record of ACN Championship titles (six), also won the first two editions of the tournament (1957 and 1959). With the competition far more intense now, the victories in 2006 and 2008 have far greater significance, and should really motivate the players into qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup since 1990.

Egypt’s Omar Gamal (L), Ibrahim Said (C) and Emad Moteab (R) celebrate after their victory over Cameroon in their African Nations Cup soccer final match in Accra February 10, 2008.


 Fédération Camerounaise de Football
[Match Highlights]
Egyptian Football Association
GOALSCORERS: 77’ Aboutreika (E)
CAMEROON (4-4-2): Kameni – Geremi, Tchato, R.Song, Atouba – A.Song (16’ Binya), Mbia, Emana (56’ Idrissou), Epalle (65’ M’Bami) – Nkong, Eto’o. Coach: Pfister.
EGYPT (3-4-3): Al Hadari – Gomaa, H.Said, Mohamed – Fathy, Hassan, Hosni, Moawad – Aboutreika (89’ H.Said), Moteab (60’ Zidan), Zaki (84’ Shawky). Coach: Shehata.



Egypt’s goalie Essam Al Hadari celebrates atop the goal post after they beat Cameroon in the African Nations Cup soccer final in Accra February 10, 2008.

Egypt’s Essam Al Hadari (L) and Mohamed Zidan (R) celebrate victory over Cameroon in the final of the African Nations Cup soccer tournament in Accra February 10, 2008.

Egypt’s captain Ahmed Hassan holds the trophy after they beat Cameroon in the African Nations Cup soccer final in Accra February 10, 2008.

Egyptian players celebrate victory over Cameroon in their African Nations Cup soccer final match in Accra February 10, 2008.

Egyptians celebrate the country’s victory against Cameroon in the African Nations Cup final played in Ghana, in Cairo, February 10, 2008.

Posted in African Cup of Nations |

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  • 8 Responses to “Cameroon 0-1 Egypt – A Pharaoh Triumph: Egypt Win Their Sixth African Cup of Nations”

    1. Hana says:

      Egypt no doubt deserved their victory, solely from this match. Heartbreaking seeing Cameroon though, they played their hearts out.

    2. Congratulations to Egypt to defend their title this year.

    3. Steve Amoia says:


      This was an excellent game report.

      If we look at Egypt’s path, it was one where the side took advantage of their opportunities when other teams didn’t. They eliminated two of the teams fancied by many to win (including the hosts, Ghana, of course) Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.

      Now they have booked their tickets to the FIFA Confederations Cup next year in South Africa.

    4. Al says:

      Hadary your new nickname is “The High Dam”.
      I love you all

      I really respect Cameroon and Cote d’Ivore and i would have been happy either way regardless of who won the final, but we did it.

      Love you Africa
      Love you Egypt
      6 stars
      6 times champions

    5. Pedro says:

      Iam just so happy that Egypt won, purely from a coaching perspective as an african native as won it, i hope this will prompt most FAs to apoint a native coach instead of a foreign coach.
      Not to say that there is no place for foreign coach in africa, but they could be used as directors of football to provide structural leadership which most countries seem to lack.
      Good bye to the recyclization of the Pfisters and leroys of this world.

    6. Alaa Mattar says:

      We are the Champions!!
      That is the end of Ghana 2008 story. 1/2 an hour before the match I saw a post on my fun wall on the face book. An old song from the 60’s for a singer whom I do not know singing “Take me back to Cairo, beside the River Nile” I thought that this is the African Crown “Cup” is saying that to the Egyptian players, as Football Fed. is very close to the River Nile. see the song on youtube:
      It is an Anglo Arab song; the arabic lyrics is an old folkoric song and so the music is. The main sound is a “nay” and old Egyptian flute.
      Back to the victory I would like to add few notes objectivly and without the exaggeration of the egyptian media:
      1- Hassan Shehata has proven to every his superior skills in coaching, defeating the finest French and German coaches in the tournament.
      2- Remarkable defeat of Gerard Gili who was coaching Egypt for less than a year few years ago. He had no acheivements and Egypt’s team was terribly bad under his supervison. Also, Otto Pfister who was coaching Zamalek club for 2 years and had some victories in the Egyptian League.
      3- Egypt won the title 6 times with National coaches. European coaches are good only with the national clubs in the national league or African Champions league.
      4- Although Shehata was a great and famous player in Egypt, he did not win the ANC as player. Unlike his assistant Shawky Ghareeb, who took the glory in Cairo stadium in 1986, and guess against who…… yes against the all mighty Cameroon. Do you remember Roger Miller, Omam Beck and Tomas Nokono.
      5- With all my respect to the West African teams, they do not deserve to win the title in this tournement. They have good individual players, but yet they lack team spirit and good definse.
      6- Yes good definse is the secret. Cote d’Ivoire has an agrrisive attack and a might midfield players. They scored goals more than any other team. However, when you see that team against Egypt you will astonished. They were helpless. The reason is they did not expect to see that Iron Curtain or let me say “Pyrmid stones” and a “High Dam”
      7- Tactics; back to Hassan Shehata the man of Ghana 2008. He started 6 matches with almost same players even the same exchange of substitues, however, he had 6 different tactical maneuvers that suites his rivals and according to goal of each match.
      8- Ghana deserves to play the final match against Egypt not Cameroon but this is football. One mistake and you are knocked out.
      9- Teams of Southern Africa are good in general but they lack tactics. Teams of Northern Africa lack spirit and courage to attack. Tunisie, you can’t win in an Italian style….defend, defend, defend, score a goal then defend, defend and defend. Or let me say it is Gohary’s style “our Egyptian coach in 1998′.
      10- Finally, Hassan Sehata a mission impossible in Angola 2010. To defend your title one is easy but twice??!!
      Egyptian media accused him of being lucky. To be lucky and win is better than being Einstien and lose, he replied.
      Wheather he is lucky or Einstien, you luve him. He is the “Mo’Alem” or the Master, the Teacher or whatever you want to say.

    7. Karl says:

      Egypt deserved to win by far. Great to see them seriously defending their title.

    8. amr says:

      egypt is the best in the world love you egypt