Sunday 31st January 2010
Estadio 11 de Novembro, Luanda, Angola
Weather: 30c, wind 15kmph, chance of showers
Egypt 1 (Geddo 86)
Egypt: El Hadary, Al-Muhamadi, Goma’a, Fathy (Moatasem 89), Moawad (Abdel-Shafy 55), Ghaly, Said, Hassan, Hosni, Zidan, Motaeb (Geddo 70)
Ghana: Kingson, Inkoom, Vorsah, Addy, Sarpei, Agyemang Badu, Annan, Ayew, Asamoah, Gyan (Adiyah 87), Opoku (Addo 89)
Tournament top scorer and super sub par excellence Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” was the hero once again as he came off the bench to grab his fifth goal of the competition and secure a 1-0 win for defending champions Egypt against a hard-working but uninspired Ghana side. His late strike was the one moment of class that lit up an otherwise uneventful final.
Ghana kicked off the 27th African Cup of Nations final as underdogs against an Egypt team aiming to make it three successive triumphs. Egypt striker Emad Motaeb shook off a hamstring strain to make the starting line-up ahead of super sub and tournament top scorer Geddo. Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson played despite an injury that prevented him from taking his own goal kicks.
It was a low key start to the game, with both teams taking a long time to settle, perhaps due to the pressure of the occasion. The first goalscoring opportunity came from a set piece in the eighth minute. Egypt defender Fathy body checked Asamoah to concede a free-kick 30m from goal, but Gyan’s shot hit the wall. Egypt ‘keeper El Hadary misjudged the resultant corner presenting Ghana with a half chance but they couldn’ t capitalise on his error. A long range effort from Ahmed Hassan in the 13th minute was Egypt’s first goal attempt but didn’t come close to troubling the goalkeeper. He tried again five minutes later but didn’t come much closer. Asamoah showed him how to hit the target with his own fiercely stuck shot from distance midway through the first half, but it was comfortably saved by El Hadary.
Chances were few and far between in the first half and neither goalkeeper was properly tested. Egypt enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and dictated most of the play but weren’t allowed to get close enough to the Ghanaian goal to cause any real trouble. The Black Stars occasionally looked dangerous on the break but didn’t often get enough men forward in support of their attacks. Nobody could argue with the goalless scoreline at the interval and everybody was hoping for a bit more action in the second half.
There were no changes during the break, but there was at least an eventful start to the second period with a flurry of yellow cards and a dangerous free-kick from Asamoah Gyan. Opoku was booked for a horrific challenge on Al-Muhamadi that could have earned him a straight red, Moawad saw yellow for a deliberate handball and then Al-Muhamadi was cautioned for a revenge challenge on Opoku, which gave Gyan the dead ball chance. His shot was tipped over the bar by El-Hahadary. After 55 minutes Shehata made his first move, replacing Moawad with Zamalek full-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy. Hossam Ghaly soon made his way into the referee’s book for a shirt pull which resulted in yet another unsuccessful long-range free kick attempt for Ghana.
Ghana enjoyed their best spell of the game early in the second half, playing much more positively than at any time in the first period, and as a result the game began to open up a bit with the forwards finding more space in which to work at both ends of the field. Egypt’s passing began to bear fruit and they started to create openings in the Ghana defence. Hassan claimed a penalty for a push in the back,but the referee waved play on and Ghana continued to favour shooting from outside the box over trying to work a clearer opening. In the 70th minute Shehata played his trump card, bringing on Geddo for Motaeb in the hope that the Al-Ittihad striker could score off the bench for the fifth time in the tournament.
However, Ghana were getting more and more on top and they created three good chances in six minutes with Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan at the heart of all their mest moves. He curled a shot just wide of the far post in the 74th minute, hit another free-kick in the 79th, which El-Hadary clumisly punched away for a corner and then played in Inkoom down the right who sent an inviting cross across the Egypt goalmouth but nobody could connect in the middle. It was totally against the run of play when that man Geddo did it again; Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” picked up the ball on the left, played a neat one two with Zidan taking him inside the Ghana box where he curled a delicate finish past Kingson and just inside the far post to create jubilant scenes on the Egypt bench.
Bizarrely, Gyan was replaced as Ghana desperately chased the game in the last few minutes but despite their pressure they weren’t able to break down the resolute Egyptian defence and the Pharaohs were crowned champions of Africa for the seventh time.