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Egypt and Nigeria through to semis

January 26, 2010

Ahmed Hassen had a hand in three of the game's four goals - eurosport

A combination of poor goalkeeping, poor decision-making and poor officiating helped Cameroon crash out of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations while Egypt, the tournament’s form team, continued their march towards a third successive title.

It had not looked that way early on when Egypt’s veteran captain Ahmed Hassan helped the ball into his own net when covering the near post from a corner. Achille Emena’s curling corner should have been dealt with, but Cameroon, patchy in the group stages, found themselves ahead.

Hassan made amends minutes later thanks to a piece of appalling goalkeeping from Carlos Kameni, purportedly one of the tournament’s best ‘keepers and someone who demonstrated his undoubted shot-stopping ability at other times in the match. The Pharoahs skipper, in his 170th international appearance, picked the ball up 25 yards out and unleashed a good, but saveable drive towards the bottom corner. Kameni failed to deal with an predictable bounce and Egypt were level.

The battle continued in the second half as the Indomitable Lions began to turn on the style, but the second goal proved elusive.

The breakthrough came in the first few minutes of extra time when Geremi, opted to slide a square ball to Kameni from the right-back position. It was the sort of defensive decision that contributed to his Newcastle United side’s relegation from the Premier League last season, and Mohamed Gedo played a neat finish into the corner.

Though Cameroon were architects of their own downfall with the second, the third should never have stood. Hassan curved a free kick towards goal – Kameni once again failed to deal adequately with the bounce and pushed the ball onto the post. The ball came back down, only for the linesman to inexplicably award a goal. It had never crossed the line. It was never even that close to crossing the line.

But Egypt were 3-1 up with twenty minutes to hold out, which they did as Cameroon lost their discipline with some unnecessary tackles. Aurélien Chedjou was sent off for bringing down Gedo, who was through on goal as the Lions committed men forward.

Cameroon were done. Egypt, unfancied at the start of the tournament, could win it again as they face Ivory Coast’s conquerers Algeria in what should be a fiery semi-final. The North African rivals contested a world-cup playoff in November, which Algeria won. Egypt should be favourites this time.

Peter Odemwingie and Vincent Enyeama celebrate Nigeria's win - BBC

Later in the day a less eventful but no less tense clash saw Nigeria beat Zambia on penalties. Zambia, who had topped Group D after some Archimedes-esque mathematics had been worked out, had the better of the game but failed to find the breakthrough while Nigeria, average at best, contributed little to the 0-0 draw after 120 minutes. In extra time they had Onyekachi Apam sent off after a second yellow card but Zambia could not take advantage.

It was left to the Super Eagles’ goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, to dispatch the winning penalty, making it 5-4 from the spot and sending his side through to face a dangerous Ghana team, who narrowly defeated hosts Angola on Sunday.

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