The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations is set for a thrilling climax on Sunday as the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the Pharaohs of Egypt battle for the continent’s top football prize.
Though the two countries are football super powers in their own right, not many gave them the chance to go all the way to succeed Cote d’Ivoire as African champions or even make it to the final.
However, the two teams have shamed their critics and would be looking to improve on their impressive AFCON record as they slug it out in the final at Stade d’Angondjé in Libreville on Sunday.
The game is a repeat of the 2008 final in which Egypt emerged victorious.
While Egypt are seven-time African champions, Cameroon have four titles to their name.
The Pharaohs booked their place in the 2017 final; needing penalty shoot out to overcome Burkina Faso while Cameroon dispatched West African rivals, Ghana, 2-0.
Going by antecedent, goals may be scarce in Sunday’s final.
The last six AFCON finals have only produced three goals – scores of 0-0, 1-0, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0 and 0-0 – while Egypt have only scored four goals in five games in this year’s event, and Cameroon five.
Regardless of all this, Egypt head coach, Hector Cuper, told journalists in Gabon he is expecting a dramatic final.
“This is going to be a great final – that is the feeling I have,” the Argentine gaffer submitted.
“I have a great team. I am talking about those who came to the tournament and those who did not come after their participations in the qualifiers,” he added.
The make-up of Cameroon’s squad has changed significantly since the appointment of Hugo Broos as manager in February 2016, but he is confident his youthful line-up can cause an upset.
“In the 29 years I’ve been a coach I’ve never worked with a group like this,” said the Belgian, who is hoping to lead the Indomitable Lions to a first AFCON title since 2002 and fifth overall.
“It’s a fantastic group of players both on and off the field and they deserve the final. We’ve shown from the start that we are getting better but it’s still a dream that we’ve got to the final.”
Attention will definitely be on the two goalkeepers at opposing ends as both contributed a great deal to see their team make it this far.
Essam El-Hadary, the remarkable 44-year-old will hope for a 5th winner’s medal while for youthful Fabrice Ondoa, a maiden honour will be a delight.
Already, Zambian referee ,Janny Sikazwe, has been chosen to officiate the Africa Cup of Nations final match
Sikazwe, 37, officiated Cameroon’s match against Burkina Faso in the group stage, which ended in a 1-1 draw, as well as their quarterfinal clash with Senegal, which saw the Indomitable Lions win 5-4 on penalties.
Head-to-Head in AFCON
04/03/1984: Egypt 1-0 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
21/03/1986: Egypt 0-0 (5-4pen) Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
14/03/1988: Egypt 0-1 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
18/01/1996: Egypt 1-2 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
04/02/2002: Egypt 0-1 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
03/02/2004: Cameroon 0-0 Egypt (Africa Cup of Nations)
22/01/2008: Egypt 4-2 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
10/02/2008: Egypt 1-0 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)
25/01/2010: Egypt 3-1 Cameroon (Africa Cup of Nations)