Egypt are through to the final of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations after beating hosts Cameroon 3-1 on penalties at the end of a goalless 120 minutes in Yaounde on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal was the hero for the Egyptians, saving from both Harold Moukoudi and James Lea-Siliki in the shoot-out at the Olembe Stadium before Clinton Njie blazed wide with Cameroon’s last chance to keep their dream alive.
Salah, usually the fifth penalty-taker for his country, was not needed as Egypt advance to a final showdown against Senegal at the Olembe Stadium on Sunday.
That will see Salah come up against his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane, with the Pharaohs chasing a record-extending eighth African crown while Senegal continue their search for their first title.
Cameroon, meanwhile, see their hopes of AFCON glory on home soil ended in cruel fashion, and they must still get through a third-place play-off against Burkina Faso this weekend.
Cameroon captain Vincent Abubakar pass up a glorious chance to open the scoring early in the second half when a dreadfully short back-pass by Martin Hongla sent him clear.
After trying to knock the ball round Andre Onana, the Cameroon goalkeeper successfully stopped him just outside the box.
Cameroon during the penalty shoot out during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals Semifinal match between Cameroon and Egypt held at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon on 03 February 2022
Aboubakar also struggled to make an impact, although the hosts had dominated the first half and almost went ahead in the 18th minute when Michael Ngadeu rose to head a corner off the woodwork.
Samuel Oum Gouet also saw a long-range piledriver clip the left upright in the second half.
Meanwhile the Egyptians went down at every opportunity, regularly looking to eat up time and frustrate their opponents.
Usually they eventually stood up again unscathed, although centre-back Mahmoud Hamdy El Wensh needed a bandage on a first-half head wound.
At least they ended the game with 11 players, but coach Carlos Queiroz — whose assistant was serving a ban here — was shown a red card as the end of normal time loomed after losing his temper on the touchline.
This was Egypt’s third extra time in as many knockout ties, after they needed penalties to beat the Ivory Coast in the last 16 and an extra half-hour to get the better of Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Extra time passed with penalties always seeming inevitable, and Aboubakar was the only successful taker for Cameroon as they go out.
Man of the Match Mohamed Abdelmonem of Egypt during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals Semifinal match between Cameroon and Egypt held at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon on 03 February 2022
What they said
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“It was a good match for us. A difficult match against a good Cameroonian team but our team knew how to make the difference with a Mohamed Salah who supported us throughout the match like a great leader. Thank God, we succeeded in our penalty shootout to secure a place in the final”.
“Each time, the Egyptian team are favorites to win the tournament. Tonight we played the usual game and we managed to reach the final. I would like to thank our coach Carlos Queiroz who was expelled during the game as well as all the players who made the difference with their ardor and grinta throughout the tournament. We are happy, it’s true, but we have not yet reached the final objective: the coronation. I can also add that our background is also due to the presence of one of the great players in our training, namely Mohamed Salah. A very essential player in our team and who remains the centerpiece for us”.
“The team played well during the 90′ trying to score goals but we didn’t succeed. We are as sad as the 27 million Cameroonians, but I think the Egyptian team knew how to counter us. We We’re sad but it’s the reality. The players felt some signs of fatigue at the end of the match, especially after a very physical and intense first half. We had tried to save our energy to counter the opponent but in vain.”