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Africa: Africa Cup of Nations
Stade Omnisport Paul Biya
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Marmoush and Egypt to meet Senegal in AFCON Final

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

At the age of just 22, Bundesliga striker Omar Marmoush will have a chance to win a continental championship for his nation. Marmoush and Egypt are through to the 2021 AFCON Final after besting hosts Cameroon 3-1 in a penalty shootout. 

Cameroonian striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting of FC Bayern München did not appear in Thursday's fixture, but will likely get another chance to play for country in the third-place playoff. 
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Photo: CAF
In a re-match of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Final, Egypt were able to take their revenge against 2017 AFCON Champions Cameroon. A game not necessarily worthy of a semi-final went down to penalties and tournament hosts Cameroon saw their dream ended in front of some 48,000 supporters at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé.

VfL Wolfsburg striker (currently suiting up for Stuttgart on loan) Omar Marmoush made his sixth start of the tournament. The 22-year-old once again lined up alongside Mohamed Salah and Mostafa Mohamed Ahmed Abdalla in Carlos Queiroz's 4-3-3. Cameroon head-coach Toni Conceiçao rolled out his own 4-3-3 with not personnel changes from the quarterfinal victory over the Comoros. FC Bayern München striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting--who has started twice in the tournament--began the game on the bench.

The "Indomitable Lions" enjoyed the Lion's share of first half chances while the Egyptian pharaohs were able to get very little going. Bundesligist Marmoush was involved in a pair of promising offensive plays (5th and 9th). Neither charge amounted to much danger, however. Following a brief little spurt at the beginning, the two 4-3-3s neutralized one another until the West African hosts hit the frame of the goal off a corner in the 19th and got another near chance off another corner one minute later.

There were many stoppages and injury timeouts throughout the rest of the opening 45. Gambian match official Bakery Gassama certainly had his hands full not only sorting out multiple fouls, but also had to warn Egyptian trainer Queiroz and staff after some early mocking gestures from the touchline. Gassama would have been fully justified to add eight or more minutes of stoppage time at the end of the opening half. The ref nevertheless decided on just three, perhaps eager to bring a choppy affair of poor quality to a halt.

Disappointingly, the level of play did not improve after the restart. Marmoush was involved in another attack in the 52nd, nutmegging Cameroon defender Collins Fai rather impressively. The play still went nowhere after trailing Egyptian fullback Omar Kamal lost the ball. Marmoush would be subbed off 11 minutes of uneventful football later. Egypt did force a good save out of Cameroonian keeper André Onana in the 57th, but otherwise sloppy play continued. The ideas simply weren't there for either side. Both squads also repeatedly turned the ball over in possession.

Ndala Ngambo finally lost patience with Quieroz near the end of normal time. The Portuguese trainer saw red in the 90th. Another Egyptian assistant received a caution before the full-time whistle. For Egypt it would be the third consecutive extra-time match of the tournament and they would have to play without their gaffer. During the half-hour of additional play, Conceiçao would utilize all his substitutions. Choupo-Moting, however, did not enter.

The Pharaohs showed a bit more imagination in extra time, yet could only manage a couple of half chances. Moving to the penalty lottery seemed fair enough, given that neither team could make decent use of the time accorded them. Cameroon's continental dream came to an ignominious end when three of Conceiçao's subs (Harold Moukoudi, James Leaves Siliki, and Clinton N'Jie) all missed their spot kicks in succession.

Egypt needed only three conversions to take the win. The Pharaohs thus get a chance to extend their continental championship record to eight titles against the other semi-final winners Senegal back at the Olembé Stadium on Sunday. Choupo-Moting might get the starting nod against Burkina Faso in the third-place-playoff in Saturday.

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