Egypt’s U-20 side reached the pinnacle of African glory for the first time since 2003, defeating heavyweights Ghana 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw to win the African Championship for the fourth time on Saturday.
Midfielder Hossam Ghaly converted the decisive spot kick in the sudden death after Ghana’s Michael Anaba rattled the crossbar as Egypt clinched the title with a 100 percent record, having won all their games. The young Pharaohs also won the title in 1981, 1991 and 2003.
The top four in the African Championship – Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali – will represent the continent at the U-20 World Cup, which will take place in Turkey in the summer. Egypt will play in Group E along with England, Chile and Iraq.
Egypt took an early lead via a fourth-minute Saleh Gomaa penalty but Jeremiah Arkorful drew Ghana level through another spot-kick four minutes later.
Both sides failed to capitalize on several goal-scoring opportunities in normal and extra time as the match went into penalties, which favoured an Egypt side who were whistled by the Algerian fans in Oran city.
Egypt were awarded a penalty after four minutes when attacking midfielder Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim “Kahraba”, the team’s liveliest performer, was felled by Richmond Nketiah. Gomaa stepped up to send keeper Eric Antwi the wrong way and give Egypt an early lead.
However, their celebrations were short-lived after full-back Ahmed Samir clumsily caught Moses Odjer across the face with a flying tackle, allowing Arkorful to restore parity from the spot.
Both sides had chances to go ahead in a pulsating first-half. Ghana’s Arkorful was unlucky to see his curling free-kick strike the crossbar while at the other end Kahraba was denied by Antwi in a one-on-one shortly before halftime.
Ghana had the upper hand in the second half, with Egypt needing some superb saves from in-form goalkeeper Mosaad Awad, who was equally impressive in the opening victory over Ghana, to force an extra time.
Chances were few and far between in both halves of the extra time. Ghana created the best chance when Ebenezer Assifuah eluded his challenger in the area and fired an angled drive that went over the bar.
In penalties, defender Rami Rabeia wasted Egypt’s first effort but matters were evened up when Awad blocked Ghana’s third kick, which was taken by Adams Ahmed.
Both sides converted the rest of their five spot kicks until the sudden death, where Egypt prevailed to lift the trophy.