28 January 2010

Algeria/Egypt: Pharaohs to Face Black Stars

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix
Obinna Nsofor of Nigeria, somersaults to celebrate a goal against Algeria with teammates Chinedu Obasi, 7, and Taye Taiwo, 3.

Benguela — The much-anticipated renewal of the bitter rivalry between Algeria and Egypt descended into a sea of red on Thursday as Algeria had three men sent off and Egypt romped to a third successive African Nations Cup final.

Algeria lost their heads in what was always going to be a niggly affair between the two sides and in the end were thoroughly thumped.

Egypt won 4-0 to book a place with Ghana in the final on Sunday, albeit with a controversial penalty that also saw Algeria's defender Rafik Halliche sent off.

Halliche had made a blunder in midfield that saw Emad Moteab head away towards goal, and giving chase Halliche brought him down to give away the penalty.

He also got a yellow card to add to one he had picked up just eight minutes earlier, leaving Algeria at a disadvantage already before half-time.

After the break Egypt were able to dictate the pace of the game but only made sure of their progress once Mohamed Zidan produced a stunning left-footed finish in the 65th minute.

Six minutes later Algeria were down to nine men when a wild two-footed lunge from Nader Belhadj saw him handed a straight red card and a possible two-match ban, which means he will be suspended for the opening game of the World Cup in June.

Egypt were able to toy with their opponents after that, slowing the game down to pedestrian pace and then picking it up again to allow substitutes Mohamed Abdelshafi and Mohamed Nagui to add two more late goals.

Abdelshafi scored from a tight angle after a strong run down the left-hand side in the 80th minute and Nagui finished from close range in stoppage time at the end of the match for his fourth goal of the tournament, making him the leading goal scorer in Angola.

In between, goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi had been sent off for a second yellow card, after a wild kick out at an advancing Egyptian player with four minutes left.

He was fortunate not to have been sent off earlier when, disputing Egypt's penalty, he had grabbed the Benin referee Bonaventure Coffi Codjia by the collar and then head butted him.

Egypt's win is a measure of revenge for their elimination by Algeria in November's World Cup qualifying play-off.

They now go to Luanda for Sunday's final against Ghana.

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