Many people predicted this game would be a tame draw, and indeed they have a phrase for it here. "Jeu de famille" is what they were saying and we would say "fix", but you do not keep 74,000 fans in Cairo happy by playing out time.
The Ivorians won both home and away against Egypt in qualifying for this tournament, which was no mean feat considering the atmosphere generated here. However, the hosts' need was greater and the final score reflected that. This defeat almost certainly means the Ivorians will face the favourites, Cameroon, in the last eight. Their chances of avoiding such a fate diminished as their coach, Henri Michel, rested Drogba, Kolo Touré and other key players after winning their first two games, but their replacements proved the World Cup debutants have some strength in depth.
Egypt's incentive was clear enough: to avoid becoming the first host nation since Tunisia in 1994 to fail to reach the knock-out stages of the Nations' Cup, and avoid the wrath of not just 74,000 fans inside this heaving stadium but also the 16 million or so scattered around the sprawling capital city. The start for the Pharoahs could scarcely have been any better than the one provided by Ibrahim Mohamed after eight minutes. Abdel Mohamed's header bounced back off the bar to provide the easiest possible finish from a yard.
Egypt were testing the Ivorians down the flank defended by their young right-back Emmanuel Eboue, with Mido giving the Arsenal player a torrid time, and he was surely grateful for the Tottenham striker's departure after 23 minutes, as he limped off in clear distress with an obvious groin injury.
Mido's participation in the rest of the tournament - as well as in Spurs' games next month - must now be in doubt. With Mido off their minds, the Elephants took the game to their hosts, and through the sparkling play of men such as the PSV Eindhoven striker Arouna Kone and the France-based Christian Koffi, they were deservedly level at the interval. After testing Egypt's goalkeeper several times, Kone finally struck when his shot on the turn after 43 minutes was deflected in for the equaliser.
Egypt scored their second when Mohamed Terika directed his shot neatly inside the far post after 61 minutes, and their status as group winners was confirmed when Ibrahim Mohamed tapped in again with 21 minutes remaining.Reuse content