30 January 2017

Egypt/Morocco: Pharoahs Still Rule at #AFCON2017

It was not quite smash-and-grab, but Egypt had to withstand some heavy Moroccan pressure before netting a late winner to ease into the African Nations Cup semifinals on Sunday.

For Hector Cuper’s Egyptians it was another clean-sheet, though just how boggles the mind given the number of clear-cut chances created by Morocco, who will wake up this morning feeling they missed a big opportunity to pull off a win.

But this Egyptian side is nothing if not resilient and when the opportunity came to snatch the win thanks to a late goal from Mahmoud Kahraba, they took it to set up a meeting with Burkina Faso in Libreville on Wednesday.

It was their first victory over Morocco in 31 years and just their third ever in 27 meetings, but arguably now instills them as tournament favourites as they make a return to the finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2010.

"It was a very complicated match for both teams for 94 minutes. We both had chances but we were lucky to get the goal from a dead ball," Cuper said, before contemplating the possibility he could be without both Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny and fellow midfielder Mohamed Mohsen for their semifinal.

"Mohsen looks to have a serious problem with a knee," Cuper said. "Elneny has a bad calf strain. He will have tests and we hope if we manage to reach the final that he can return."

Egypt have now extended their unbeaten run at the Nations Cup finals to 23 matches, having last tasted defeat against Algeria in the group stages at the 2004 tournament which was hosted by Tunisia.

Morocco coach Herve Renard was denied a third Nations Cup title but says he is proud of the display of his side, who appear to be a team on the up.

"I am proud of all the players. One by one, honestly they were exceptional," he said.

"We must not have regrets. We must just be proud of what we have done because we have come a long way."

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