Drogba left fuming as Egypt triumph earns final chance

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The Independent Football

Sunday's final of the African Nations Cup will be between Egypt and Cameroon after a night of semi-final upsets saw the hosts Ghana and favourites Ivory Coast knocked out of the tournament.

Egypt, who are trying to defend the trophy they won two years ago, beat Ivory Coast 4-1 in Kumasi after Cameroon had crushed the home nation's hopes with a 1-0 victory over Ghana in Accra.

An Ivory Coast side boasting such luminaries as Didier Drogba, Kolo Touré, Didier Zokora, Emmanuel Eboué and Salomon Kalou were strongly fancied to win the competition, but Egypt, the most successful team in the tournament's history with five titles to their name, triumphed thanks to two goals from Amr Zaki and one apiece from Ahmed Fathi and Mohamed Aboutrika.

In an enthralling match, Fathi gave Egypt an early lead before Zaki struck twice in five minutes just after the hour, with Abdelkader Keita replying one minute after Zaki's first goal. Aboutrika added a fourth in injury time.

Egypt were also helped by an inspired performance from goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari, who denied Drogba on three occasions with the score still at 1-0.

There was an ugly scuffle at half-time when Ivory Coast players surrounded a member of the Egypt bench, pointing fingers and remonstrating angrily, while Drogba also argued with Egypt players.

Substitute Alain Nkong's second-half goal gave Cameroon victory over Ghana in Accra. Nkong, playing in only his second international, slotted the ball past Richard Kingson after being set up by Samuel Eto'o on 71 minutes at the Ohene Djan stadium to put Cameroon into a sixth Nations Cup final.

Cameroon had been written off after a 4-2 defeat by Egypt in their opening match, but have recovered remarkably. The Indomitable Lions will have to make do without the defender Andre Bikey for the final after he was sent off for shoving a first-aid assistant in a bizarre incident at the end of the game.

Victory was sweet for Cameroon's veteran coach Otto Pfister, who previously reached the Nations Cup final as coach of Ghana 16 years ago. "It's one of the highlights of my career," the 71-year-old said. Cameroon created few chances but made their key opportunity count. "The difference between the teams was mainly mental," added Cameroon midfielder Achille Emana.

"I was never as sad in my career as I am today," said the Ghana coach, Claude Le Roy. "It's a terrible deception to lose. I can understand how sad the people of Ghana are tonight."

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