CAIRO: Hosts Egypt won a record fifth African Nations Cup title when they defeated Ivory Coast 4-2 on penalties after both teams failed to score after normal and extra time in the final here Friday.
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata said they owed their victory to the total support by the 80,000-strong crowd even at a point when it looked like this was not going to be their day.
“The goal Zaki scored late in the normal time should have stood because there was nothing wrong with it and when we again lost the penalty in extra time, I was beginning to think, it was not going to be our day but thank God we were luckier during the penalty shootout, Shehata said.
“Ivory Coast are a very good team but we knew them well after we played against them thrice in recent times so we were able to know their strong and weak points.
Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel rued the chances his team failed to take before the penalty shootout.
“It’s a pity we were not far from winning this tournament but when you got the chances we had, you are not supposed to miss them. “The penalty against us was like that against Senegal, a robbery, but still they were not able to convert it, he said.
Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora said they were disappointed to have lost the cup. “Penalty shootout or not, we lost. We are really disappointed but we had a good tournament. We have qualified for the World Cup and had to show something, we proved it tonight and during the whole tournament, he said.
Egypt skipper Ahmed Hasan failed to break the deadlock seven minutes into extra time when his penalty kick after a dubious foul on Mohamed Barakat by Blaise Kouassi hit the base of the post and came back into play.
Egypt, parading as many as Zaki had the first shot at goal after five minutes but his right footer missed its mark then five minutes later the crafty Ahmed Hasan was brought down near the box by Kouassi but the freekick by Abdelzaher El Saqqa missed narrowly.
Zaki’s half volley inside the Ivorian box on 34 minutes missed the target as the Pharaohs continued to pile on the pressure. However, when Ivory Coast counter attacked they looked dangerous. El Saqqa did well to stop goal-bound Drogba in the 36th minute while Kolo Toure failed to get to the end of a corner taken by Kanga Akale.
Two minutes after the interval an unmarked Mohamed Aboutrika failed to direct his header for possibly one of the best chances of the game thus far. The Ivorians responded immediately but Arouna Kone’s grounder failed to hit its mark. Ivory Coast grew in confidence and so began to commit more men upfront. In the 75th minute Drogba blasted the ball over the bar from inside the box after some brilliant work by Kone on the right flank and then in second half stoppage time, the Chelsea striker again failed to drill home an Eboue cross. AFP