Egypt and Cameroon, two of the most successful teams in Africa Cup of Nations history, are ready to do battle in the 2017 final on Saturday.
Record seven-time winners Egypt won three tournaments in a row between 2006 and 2010, with more glory now in their sights.
After failing to qualify for the three competitions to follow that famous hat-trick, the Pharaohs have resumed their dominance after returning to the tournament proper this year by reaching the final, conceding only once in five games.
Egypt have only ever lost one AFCON final and represent formidable opposition to Cameroon.
Hugo Broos’ side, though, should not be underestimated. Despite losing key players through injuries and withdrawals prior to the event, they have seen off two of the competition’s most fancied teams in Senegal and Ghana without conceding to reach this stage.
Cameroon are four-time champions – a record only bettered by Egypt – but are looking for a first title since 2002.
The Indomitable Lions have won four of their six trips to the final. Their two defeats, though, both came at the hands of Egypt – in 1986 and 2008.
Goals and excitement may be at a premium in Libreville. 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, compared to Cameroon’s five.
Egypt head coach Hector Cuper, though, is expecting drama, saying: “This is going to be a great final – that is the feeling I have.
“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.”
Cameroon boss Broos hailed his side’s accomplishment in reaching the showpiece.
He said: “In the 29 years I have been a coach I have never worked with a group like this.
“It is a fantastic group of players both on and off the field and they deserve the final.
“We have shown from the start that we are getting better but it is still a dream that we have got to the final.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Egypt – Mohamed Salah
Egypt have struggled for goals in the competition, but Salah has been involved in three of the four they have scored.
The Roma winger has scored twice – including in the semi-final against Burkina Faso – and assisted another.
Cameroon – Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui
Cameroon’s success has been built on their solid defence, with centre-backs Ngadeu-Ngadjui and Adolphe Teikeu their unsung heroes.
Slavia Prague’s Ngadeu-Ngadjui has been particularly strong, scoring in the win over Ghana and recording seven clearances both in that semi-final and the last-eight win over Senegal.
KEY OPTA STATS:
– Egypt and Cameroon are set to meet for the 10th time in the AFCON. The Pharaohs have won four games to Cameroon’s three in that time (D2 – including a penalty shoot-out victory for Egypt).
– Regardless of who wins this game, we will see a manager lift the AFCON trophy at their very first attempt as this is the first AFCON for both Hector Cuper and Hugo Broos.
– Cuper’s side are the only team yet to concede a goal in the first half in this edition of the African Cup of Nations.
– Egypt have gone 24 AFCON games without defeat (W18 D6), last losing in the 2004 tournament (v Algeria) and have only conceded two goals across their last 10 matches in the AFCON.
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