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Last four battle it out for Afcon 2017 glory

2017-02-01 15:53

Of the 16 nations that featured in the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, only four countries remain in Gabon.

The rejuvenated Pharaohs of Egypt have made it to the semifinals of the tournament without conceding a goal.

This comes as a slight surprise considering the Pharaohs’ dreadful form in recent years.

The last time the North African country was successful in this tournamemnt they claimed a record seventh Afcon title in 2010 in Angola, when they beat Ghana 1-0 to secure what was also a third consecutive continental title.

Ironically, the Pharaohs failed to qualify for the 2015 edition of the Afcon for the third consecutive time after missing out in the 2012 and 2013 editions respectively.

However, under new coach Héctor Raúl Cúper, the Pharaohs seem to have found a new lease on life.

In a stalemate encounter that seemed destined for extra-time, Egypt’s Mahmoud Kahraba pulled a rabbit out the hat when he struck late to hand the Pharaohs victory over Morocco in Sunday’s quarterfinal clash in Port-Gentil.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso – who are still searching for their first Afcon title – beat Tunisia by two goals to reach the semis.

Goals from second half substitute Aristide Bance and striker Prejuce Nakoulma secured victory for The Stallions.

They will look to win their first ever Afcon title after losing to Nigeria in the final of the 2013 edition in South Africa. It was their first ever Afcon final.

The Black Stars of Ghana enter every African tournament as favourites to win. However this has not been the case for the four time continental champions.

The last time Ghana won this tournament was back in 1982.

The Black Stars have qualified for the tournament 21 times in total, finishing as runners-up five times, third once, and fourth three times.

Ghana has appeared in the final nine times, more than any other team left in the tournament. Ghana also holds the record for most consecutive semifinal appearances, six times between 2008 and 2017.

Former Ghana midfielder and African player of the year, Abedi Pele, became the proudest of all African fathers on Sunday evening as both his sons, Andre and Jordan Ayew scored one goal each to send the Black Stars through to the semifinals at the expense of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a lion eat lion encounter at the Stade d’Oyem on Saturday, Africa’s top ranked nation, Senegal succumbed to a 5-4 defeat to Cameroon on penalties after Liverpool talisman Sadio Mané failed to convert from the spot.

This was a huge blow for the Indomitable Lions, particularly because of their long history with the Lions of Teranga.

In 2002 current Senegal coach, Aliou Cisse, led the side that reached the final of the tournament where he, like Sadio, missed a penalty during a shootout against Cameroon in Mali.

Saturday’s defeat to the same opponents will surely haunt the Senegalese faithful for decades to come.

The Lions of Teranga will feature in the last four for the first time since their run to the final in Egypt in 2008.

They will lock horns with Ghana at 9pm tomorrow at Stade de Franceville while Egypt is set to take on the Burkinabe tonight at 9pm in the Angondje.

The semifinal winners will battle it out for Africa’s top prize at Stade d’Angondje on Sunday at 9pm while the losers will engage in combat for third place on Saturday at Stade de Port Gentil at 9pm.

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December 10 2017