Football

Veteran goalkeeper El Hadary the hero for Egypt

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary saved Bertrand Traore's spot-kick to help Egypt beat Burkina Faso 4-3 on penalties yesterday morning (Singapore time) to secure their place in the African Nations Cup (ANC) final.

A tense semi-final in Libreville, Gabon, had ended 1-1, with Roma star Mohamed Salah's superb 66th-minute opener for the Egyptians quickly cancelled out by Aristide Bance.

That goal was the first conceded by 44-year-old El Hadary - the oldest-ever player at the ANC - in 653 minutes at the tournament going back to 2010.

Abdallah El Said missed Egypt's first attempt in the shoot-out, but El Hadary saved from opposing goalkeeper Herve Koffi, before denying Traore from the last kick.

For Egypt, the record seven-time African champions, the win completes a remarkable journey to the final in their first appearance after a seven-year absence. Unbeaten in 24 games at the tournament, they will play Cameroon or Ghana in the final on Monday morning.

"They were better than us and had several chances that they didn't take," admitted Egypt's Argentine coach Hector Cuper. "We were very tired and our wish was to go to penalties because then anything can happen. We are delighted to be in the final."

Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte said: "Looking at the match - not the penalties because Egypt won those thanks to a goalkeeper with enormous experience - if one team had to win, it was us." - AFP

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