KUMASI: Champions Egypt continued their march towards a possible sixth Africa Cup of Nations crown courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Zambia in a final Group C match here Wednesday.
The Pharaohs finished top of Group C on seven points and now await the second-placed team in Group D who they will face in the quarter-finals to be played here on Monday.
Amr Zaki netted Egypt’s goal after quarter of an hour while hard working skipper Christopher Katongo drew his team level on 87 minutes when he shot from inside the box.
Egypt assistant coach Shawki Gharib said his team achieved their targets for this game.
“We first wanted to qualify and lead our group. We also wanted to finish the game free of any injuries and we achieved all our targets, said Gharib.
“We are therefore satisfied with the result.
“Egypt played well against Sudan and Cameroon but today we gave them a good run for this draw, said Zambia coach Patrick Phiri.
“This was the Zambia that trained in Spain and played against Morocco before the tournament. It was a disaster for us against Cameroon but after this match we can go back home with some sense of satisfaction.
Egypt kicked off brightly inside an empty 40,000-capacity Baba Yara Stadium in the northern city of Kumasi with their small but noisy traveling band of fans full of voice to cheer them on.
However, Zambia also went on the offensive in the early minutes. Skipper Katongo was impeded on the edge of the box after seven minutes but his brother Felix shot wide of the target from the resulting free kick.
In the 12th minute some good work in midfield let in Felix Katongo, who raced into the Egyptian box and he found Mulenga, whose final shot was easily dealt with by goalkeeper El Hadary.
It was Egypt though who took the lead in the 15th minute when Zaki met a sharp pullout from the left by Said Abdelwahed on the half volley which whistled past Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Mulenga would have restored parity for the Zambians in the 21st minute but his stylish kick after some fine work on the right flank by skipper Katongo was held by El Hadary.
And moments later Katongo again found his way inside the Egyptian danger zone but superb defending by Said Abdelwahed denied him the chance to draw level for the Chipolopolo.
Right fullback Ahmed Fathy responded for Egypt but his long-range shot crashed against the side netting just as indecision by Felix Katongo would again rob Zambia of another chance inside the 18-yard box.
In the closing minutes of the first period, Hosny Abd Rabou fired wide from inside the box, Emad Mohamed s header inside the six-yard box was scrambled away by Mweene while the Egyptians found themselves at the end of some hard tackling by the Zambians.
Just after the restart Zaki misdirected his free header within the six-yard box over the bar as Egypt piled on further pressure.
A second goal was proving elusive for the Egyptians after Abd Rabou s feeble shot from inside the box failed to rattle Mweene and Emad Mohamed s effort soon after could only stretch the Chipolopolo goalkeeper. The introduction of big central defender Chintu Kampamba stabilized the Zambian backline, which gifted several goals to Cameroon in their previous match.
In the 63rd minute Egypt made a double change to pep up their attack, Mohamed Zidan replaced goal scorer Zaki while Mohamed Abou Treika came on for Ahmed Hassan.
Zambia maintained the pressure for an equalizer but hopeful shots by Christopher Katongo and his brother Felix failed to find the net. James Chamanga also tried from distance in the dying minutes of the encounter.
Zambia finished the stronger, and Katongo scored his second goal of the tournament three minutes from time after dashing into the box and firing home from the near post past El Hadary.
However his leveler was to no avail, Zambia finishing third in group C on four points.
At the same time, Samuel Eto o became the all-time record goal scorer at the African Nations Cup when he fired Cameroon into the quarter-finals.
In Tamale Eto o s first half penalty and end-of-time second sandwiched between defender Mohamed Khiber s own goal fired Cameroon to a 3-0 win over Sudan to bag the Group C runners-up spot on six points.
Wednesday s quarter-final new recruits join already qualified Ivory Coast, hosts Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria. Wednesday s two losing sides Sudan and Zambia joined Morocco, Benin, Mali and Namibia on the opening round scrap heap.
The tenth day of the biennial competition undoubtedly belonged to Eto o.
The Barcelona striker was level on 14 goals with Laurent Pokou of Ivory Coast entering the final-round fixture and took just 27 minutes to create history at Tamale Stadium before adding a second in stoppage time.
The three-time African Player of the Year celebrated reaching the milestone with extreme calm, returning to the centre circle while accepting the congratulations of team-mates approaching him one at a time.