Tuesday, February 07, 2006

African Cup Finalists: Egypt and Ivory Coast

I have not been following the African Cup with an overly keen interest after Ghana's disappointing exit. But after some great quarterfinals and semifinals, I certainly believe we can look forward to a very good final next Friday, between two of the best teams of the tournament: Home team Egypt against the World Cup bound Ivory Coast.

The Ivorians are in the final after an intense quarterfinal against Cameroon (which was won 12-11 after penalty kicks. Eto'o missed the last penalty for Cameroon, ending in shame a great tournament. I only wonder if he will be treated as Wome was...), and a narrow 1-0 victory against Nigeria in the semifinal. Didier Drogba has been a leading player on the Ivorian side, and he also scored the lone goal against Nigeria.

I am not surprised Egypt is in the final. The home team, "the Pharaohs", have been strong all the way, pushed forward by a wonderful crowd of fans. They easily dispatched Congo 4-1 in the quarterfinal, but had more problems in the semifinal. Senegal put up a great fight, and Egypt looked like a team falling apart when Senegal equalized on a beautiful header. Then, Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata showed himself as a super-star coach: with ten minutes to go, he replaced the Egyptian star Mido with a Amr Zaki. Mido left in disgrace, furious; he almost hit his coach. Mido had not played a good match, and the change proved a brilliant move. Amr Zaki had some magical 10 minutes on the pitch, scoring the winning goal for Egypt.

Great players respect their coach's decision and show restraint. Mido's reaction to his substitution just shows he is not such a player. If I was coach, I would not let him play the final.

In the group stages Egypt already defeated Ivory Coast 3-1. However, the Egyptians should certainly not feel comfortable because of that. The Ivorians are very strong, and will surely do all they can to spoil any party in Egypt on Friday.


El Erik said...

The Egyptian Football Federation has suspended an unapologetic Mido for six months because of his unruly behaviour in the semifinal. Thus, they have given their support to the coach, and will give tranquility to the team before the final.
This is a brave and correct decision. Mido should eb ashamed of himself, and should not be missed in the final. If Egypt are true champions, they will not need him.

Sporty Muslimah said...

Peace, yeah the final wa sprety cool I enjopyed it loadz, I am a Man Utd fan myself though :)

El Erik said...

Thanks Sporty!
It was an interesting match. Not entertaining in the first part, as usual with a final, but certainly intense, and with the controversial refereee decisions.
Egypts victory was well-deserved though. Cote d'Ivoire played well, but Didier Drogba was a disappointment.