ACCRA (Reuters) – Egypt successfully defended the African Nations Cup then they beat Cameroon 1-0 in Sunday’s final with a goal 13 minutes from time by Mohamed Aboutrika.
The Egyptians extended to six their record number of titles but not before overcoming a physically tough challenge from four-times champions Cameroon.
It is only the third time a team have successfully defended the title after the Egyptians previously achieved the feat in 1959 and Cameroon in 2002.
Aboutrika applied the finishing touch to a square pass from Mohamed Zidan, after the striker had robbed possession from Cameroon’s veteran captain Rigobert Song on the edge of the penalty area in the 77th minute.
“It’s a great feeling to score because I feel I am representing the whole country,” said Aboutrika, who also netted the penalty shootout winner in 2006.
“But to win the championship a second time and away from home is a great achievement,” the midfielder added.
Egypt, who had beaten Cameroon 4-2 in their opening group match in Kumasi on January 22, created the majority of the chances but were thwarted by some fine stops from goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni.
He was central to the key incidents of the first half, botching a clearance in the 12th minute that landed at the feet of Egypt striker Amr Zaki, who missed a clear chance by striking the ball wide of goal.
Kameni redeemed himself with a brave save at point blank range from Emad Moteab, who had been sent clear on goal by a superb pass over the top of the defence in the 36th minute.
Shortly after the break, Kameni made a flying save to deny Egypt midfielder Hosni Abd Rabou, who was named the player of the tournament, diving to palm away a powerful drive.
Cameroon sought to catch Egypt on the counter-attack but rarely found top scorer Samuel Eto’o, whose best effort came 10 minutes before halftime when a burst of pace saw him shrug of his marker but he then shot across the face of goal.
After conceding the goal, Cameroon pushed forward and twice forced Egypt goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari to parry away the ball.
Song almost made up for his error when he headed narrowly over the top just seconds from the end.
“We don’t like to lose, especially in the final but the positive thing is that at least we made the final. Many people did not think we would make it, but we fought our way,” said Cameroon defender Geremi.
It was only the second time that Cameroon have been beaten in six final appearances — both times by Egypt.