AFCON

Ghana no match for Egypt

2010-01-31 14:47
Egypt's captain Ahmed Hassan (AFP)

Cairo - Egyptian newspapers predicted Ghana will be routed when the defending champions the Pharaohs take on the youthful but feisty Black Stars in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

The six-time cup winning Pharaohs are fighting for their third consecutive continental crown against the inexperienced but dogged Black Stars, who have fought their way to the finals in Angola for the first time since 1992.

"The seventh cup calls us: The heroic Pharaohs are ready to enter history through the Ghanaian 'door'," said the headline in Egypt's independent Al-Masry Al-Youm daily.

The Pharaohs go into the match with an 18-game winning streak since 2004. But trouncing Ghana would still be small compensation for crumbling against Algeria in a World Cup qualifier in November amid violence by fans and a media war between the two countries.

Still, the Egyptians restored some lost pride by routing eight-man Algeria 4-0 on Thursday in an Africa Cup game that saw the Algerian squad implode before the Pharaohs' superior team work.

"Winning the third championship is the ambition of a generation who were opposed by luck to reach the World Cup," the government newspaper Al-Akhbar said.

Beset by injuries, the Black Stars have still excelled themselves. The eight youngsters from the Under-20 World Cup winning side belied their inexperience to manfully step into the shoes of the likes of injury-hit stars Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, John Pantsil and John Mensah.

They won't prove easy pickings, as they have shown scant regard for reputation in the Africa Cup games in Angola.

The Black Stars started out with an opening loss to Ivory Coast, but then rattled off wins against Burkina Faso, Angola and Nigeria to make it to their first final in 18 years. Egypt for their part have have looked invincible, brushing aside Nigeria, Mozambique, Benin, Cameroon and old foes Algeria to set themselves up for a third straight title and seventh continental cup.

"It is the dream of a generation that lost the chance to play in the first World Cup in Africa. We were the closer and perhaps the most deserving to qualify. But it is football, which sometimes turns its back on the better team," Al Akhbar quoted defense man Wael Gomaa as saying.

"The Pharaohs are poised to defeat the fourth African team that qualified to the World Cup!" read the headline in the independent Shorouk.

The Pharaohs have already defeated Cameroon and Nigeria, who both qualified for the 2011 World Cup along with Ghana and Algeria.

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