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Egypt outlasts Cameroon and advances to AFCON final via penalties

2021 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon were relegated to battling for third place following the Indomitable Lions’ semifinal defeat to Egypt on Thursday via a penalty kick shootout following 120 minutes of scoreless football. The Pharaohs will clash with the Teranga Lions of Senegal on Sunday for top prize in Africa’s showcase competition thanks to another splendid defensive performance and composure when it mattered most. Cameroon will take on Burkina Faso in the tournament’s third place match on Saturday.

The hosts did all they could to strike early and put Egypt on the back foot, but missed opportunities allowed their opponents to settle in and keep the match close and tense. Cameroon threatened in the first half primarily through set pieces delivered by forward Moumi Ngamaleu. Ngamaleu’s corner kick in the 18th minute found Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, but the central defender’s header bounced back off the post before being cleared.

A minute later Ngadeu-Ngadjui had a second look when another Ngamaleu corner was flicked on by André Zambo Anguissa, but the KAA Gent player could not get his feet right and scuffed his attempt at a finish. Cameroon’s opportunities lessened as the match wore on and Egypt successfully held out to keep things scoreless at halftime.

Egypt finally got their first shot on goal soon after halftime with a weak Mostafa Mohamed header easily being handled by Cameroon keeper André Onana. Ten minutes later the Pharaohs came closest to scoring when a golden opportunity fell to superstar Mohamed Salah. A nightmare back pass from Cameroon midfielder Martin Hongla set up Salah for a breakaway but Onana did brilliantly to sprint off his line and tackle the ball away outside his penalty area.

The match turned into a complete deadlock after Salah’s missed opportunity with a 40-yard blast from Cameroon’s Samuel Oum Gouet the only real chance of note as the midfielder’s hopeful shot went just wide of Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal’s goal. Extra time provided little suspense and Egypt came closest when substitute Ramadan Sobhi beat a defender to get to the end line, but nobody could finish off his dangerous driven cross.

Penalty kicks were the only way a winner would be decided, and the hosts completely lost their nerve while Egypt remained calm. Mohamed Abdelmonem and substitutes Ahmed Sayed “Zizo” and Mohanad Lasheen converted their spot kicks, but Cameroon’ fortunes took a downturn on their second attempt when substitute center back Harold Moukoudi’s weak effort was parried away by Gabaski. Gabaski came up big again to deny James Lea Siliki on Cameroon’s next attempt and the Cameroonian misery was completed when Clinton N’Jie sent his kick wide to spark Egyptian celebrations.

Highlights of the match are below.

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