Egypt v Cameroon, Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, January 25, 2010
Egypt, aiming for their third successive title, have arguably been the most impressive team of the tournament so far, face Cameroon, one of the major disappointments, in a repeat of the final two years ago. (Egypt are to 4/1 win the tournament, Cameroon are 7/1.)
This quarter final appears to be the most intriguing of the four and whoever wins will have the unenviable task of playing either Ivory Coast or Algeria in the semi-finals.
The Pharaohs (5/6 to qualify for the semis) have looked by far the most fluent team in the tournament, cruising through the group stage with a 100% record with wins over Nigeria, Mozambique and Benin. Coach Hassan Shehata has done well to reinvigorate his squad after the disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup and without the mercurial talent of Mohamed Abou Treika.
Key to Egyptâ€™s success so far has been the strike force of Mohamed Zidan (84/1 to be the competition’s top goalscorer) and Emad Metab (4/1 to be the competition’s top goalscorer) which looks well balanced and capable of scoring goals against anyone. In goal, veteran Essam Al Hadary has shown his experience and does not seem prone to a rush of blood to the head like many keepers in Angola.
The star of the show for Shehataâ€™s side has undoubtedly been veteran midfield schemer Ahmed Hassan. The 34-year-old was expected to drift back into the limelight when he returned to Al Ahly from Anderlecht but still has the class to win a top class match and Alexandre Song will have to close Hassan down if the Indomitable Lions are to come out on top.
Paul Le Guenâ€™s team have generally followed the trend set by the teams who have already qualified for the World Cup by underwhelming and Samuel Etoâ€™o and co scraped through from Group D.
In particular Cameroonâ€™s defence (9/4 to keep a clean sheet, 4/11 against) has looked very shaky. An opening game defeat to Gabon then saw the Indomitable Lions brush close to elimination in a 3-2 win over Zambia and this was followed up by a 2-2 draw with Tunisia.
Samuel Etoâ€™o (4/1 to be the competition’s top goalscorer), who has claimed two in the last two games, will be their undoubted danger man and goalkeeper Carlos Kameni will be looking to prove he is the best custodian in the competition. Achille Webo is also pushing for inclusion after setting up both goals against Tunisia after coming on as a substitute.
There are plenty of famous faces in the Cameroon team but the nagging suspicion is that they donâ€™t quite have the teamwork of combined fluidity of Egypt. The Indomitable Lions do have revenge on their minds, and it isnâ€™t just for their 1-0 defeat to the Pharaohs in the final two years ago (15/2 to repeat that scoreline).
Cameroon failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2006 when they missed a penalty in the final minute against Egypt in a qualifier. Making their job even harder is the fact that their opponents set a new unbeaten record in the history of the competition, when they beat Benin last week, to take their tally to 15 games without defeat.
For many, Egypt were an afterthought going into this tournament as they came to Angola without the big names of many other sides. From the opening matches it is clear that they are better organised and more fluent than anyone else and only a piece of individual genius from someone like Samuel Etoâ€™o (or Didier Drogba in the likely semi-final) will stop them securing their third successive crown.
101gg predicts: Egypt 3 â€“ Cameroon 1 (28/1)
Full match odds here.