Egypt beats Ghana 1-0 to win African Cup title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Egypt won the African Cup of Nations for the third time in a row on Sunday after substitute Mohamed Gedo scored in the 85th minute to earn a 1-0 victory over Gh

Updated: February 01, 2010 19:25 IST
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Luanda, Angola :

Egypt won the African Cup of Nations for the third time in a row on Sunday after substitute Mohamed Gedo scored in the 85th minute to earn a 1-0 victory over Ghana in the final.

Tournament debutant Gedo curled in a shot from within the area to give Egypt its record seventh title.

"From the first day we arrived we said we were here to win the tournament," Egypt assistant coach Shawki Garib said. "And we did it, even if it was harder than in 2006 and 2008."

No other team has won the biennial tournament three consecutive times.

Egypt, which hasn't played in a World Cup since 1990, will again miss the showcase tournament this summer. Unbeaten in 19 matches in the African Cup, the team lost to Algeria last November in the playoffs for a World Cup place in South Africa.

"We play better during big tournaments than during our qualifying campaigns," Garib said. "Over three weeks, it's easier to develop team cohesion."

Egypt scored 15 goals and conceded just two on its way to the title and secured victories over four World Cup qualifiers: Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana.

"I'm really proud of the players' achievements," Garib said.

Ghana, which had been hoping to earn its first continental crown since 1982, dominated for most of the match but failed to create clearcut chances.

"We played carefully, we were very patient and methodical," Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac said. "We played to score and we controled the match. It was unfortunate to concede a goal."

Egypt played without suspended striker Mahmoud Fathallah while Ghana was at full strength with goalkeeper Richard Kingson overcoming a minor hamstring injury to start.

Meeting in the final for the first time in 53 years, both teams made a cautious start, scrapping for possession in midfield and struggling to create chances.

Ghana defender Samuel Inkoom tried his luck with a free kick from 30 meters in the eighth minute, while Egypt captain Hamed Hassan fared no better with a long-range effort five minutes later which flew over the bar.

Fielding four members of the team that won the Under20 World Cup last year, Ghana defended neatly and were able to move swiftly into the Egypt half. However, Ghana failed to really support its strikers.

Enjoying the support of the Angolan crowd, Ghana had another chance in the 15th minute but Agyeman Badu's shot from a free kick was deflected wide.

Andre Ayew, the son of African great Abedi Pele, then failed to take advantage of Egypt's poor clearance in the 20th minute, fluffing his half-volley while unmarked in the box, moments before Kwadwo Asamoah fired a 30-meter drive directly into the hands of Essam El Hadary.

Hassan tried to latch onto a free kick with his hand four minutes before the interval but couldn't catch the ball.

Asamoah Gyan, who scored Ghana's winners against both Angola and Nigeria in the previous stages, went close in the 52nd minute with a perfectly curled free kick that was tipped over the bar by El Hadary.

Ghana maintained its domination as Ayew unleashed a low shot that ended just wide while Egypt players were forced to make fouls to contain their opponents' speed.

Gyan was a threat again in the 74th minute when he missed the target following a quick counterattack before forcing El Hadary to palm the ball away on a free kick.

Egypt finally broke the deadlock against the run of the play when Gedo, the top striker of the tournament with five goals, was perfectly set up on the left side of the box after a nice one-two and scored with a curling shot past Kingson at the far post.

Egyptians players and members of their staff invaded the field at the final whistle while fans lit flares. Striker Mohamed Zidan was blocked by security officers as he tried to reach the stands and was unable to join Egypt's fans in their celebrations.

The team's success was celebrated loudly in Cairo, with roving bands of revelers hitting the streets, banging drums, blasting air horns and setting off fireworks. One man spun an Egyptian flag around him in the style of a whirling dervish.

"They played with confidence and seemed convinced they could pull off a miracle at the end and they did that," said Nabil Abdel-Hay, 57, who watched the match with hundreds of others on an outdoor screen in downtown Cairo.

The victory also brought out disappointment that Egypt _ while it dominates Africa _ failed to qualify for the World Cup.

"I believed this team deserved to get to the World Cup," Abdel-Hay said. "It's because they didn't get in to the World Cup that they played with double the energy to get here."

Abdel-Hay praised goalkeeper Essam El Hadary: "He was amazing. He gave us a previous Africa's Cup the same way."

As for Gedo and the substitute's five goals throughout the tournament, Abdel-Hay said, "He only plays 20 minutes, but he always gets a goal."

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