Egypt entered the record books here on Sunday, beating Ghana 1-0 in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations with supersub Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagy lifting the Pharaohs to their third straight title.
Gedo, who has scored from the bench in Egypt’s last four games in Angola, came on in the 63rd minute and produced his magic with five minutes left on the clock to cement Egypt’s standing as the kings of Africa.
The win also gave Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata a history-making third championship and extended Egypt’s unbeaten record in the competition to an astonishing 19 games.
Egypt were unchanged from the XI that crushed Algeria 4-0 in the semi-finals save for the absence of suspended defender Mahmoud Fatalla – former Spurs midfielder Hossam Ghaly started in his place.
Fears that striker Emad Motaeb may have to miss the final due to a hamstring strain proved unfounded.
Ghana named an identical line-up to their last four win over Nigeria, with captain Richard Kingson taking up residence between the posts despite a late fitness scare.
The Black Stars made it to the final playing pragmatic rather than beautiful football, but they began in enterprising fashion, matching the Egyptians for speed and dexterity.
In-form striker Asamoah Gyan had an early shot go high over the Pharaoh’s crossbar and Serie A-based Kwadwo Asamoah had a long range effort safely scooped up by Essam al-Hadary as the supposed ‘underdogs’ counter attacked with menace.
Down at the other end Egypt were proving slippery down their right flank.
On 25 minutes Kingson, clearly feeling his injury, had Mohamed Zidan’s long ranger covered by the far post.
Towards the end of the first period both skipper Ahmed Hassan, on his 172nd international appearance, and Motaeb, failed to connect with a floating 25m Egyptian freekick into the box.
Honours even it was as the sides re-emerged after the break with the 50,000 capacity Chinese-built stadium by now three-quarters full and the near 40 degree heat which greeted the players at kick-off cooling down as night fell.
Opoku Agyemang went into Mali referee Coulibaly Koman’s book for an ill-judged tackle on Ahmed al-Mohamady and not to be outdone Egypt’s Sayed Moawad picked up a yellow card seconds later for handball.
Koman had his hand in his pocket again to fish out a card for al-Mohamady after a collision with Opoku, with Gyan’s resulting 28m freekick edging over the woodwork.
Shehata introduced Zamalek defender Mohamed Abdel Shafi for Moawad on 56 minutes.
The game badly needed a goal but what it got was another booking, this time Ghaly for pulling Asamoah.
Gyan had al-Hadary at full stretch on the hour but the keeper needn’t have worried as the Rennes forward’s shot curled round to the left of the near-post with the ball crashing into the side netting.
Shehata brought on supersub Gedo with 20 minutes left for Motaeb hoping the Al-Ittihad striker would repeat his magic.
Ghana’s best chance came in the 78th minute when al-Hadary did well to punch away Gyan’s lethal looking 28m freekick as Ghana’s youngsters had Egypt’s red shirts on the run.
Unbelievably with the game heading towards extra-time Gedo conjured up the decisive goal with a sublime 1-2 with Zidan down the left to slot an angled shot past Kingson.