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Two of Africa’s most successful teams, Egypt and Cameroon will once again battle it out for who takes over the crown from Cote d’Ivoire as kings of the continent. This was after both nations made it to the final of the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon; against all odds.

Here, we take a look at how both sides managed to make it this far in the competition.

Egypt

Road to Gabon

Record seven-time, African champions, Egypt, made a sensational return to the AFCON after missing the last three editions. The Pharaohs, who clinched the title in their last appearance in 2010, qualified for the showpiece at the expense of continental powerhouse, Nigeria. Héctor Cúper’s team were one of three nations who didn’t taste defeat en route to the competition.

Journey to the final

Egypt found themselves understandably written off prior to the commencement of the competition due to their failures in recent times. But a string of impressive displays in Gabon has put the Pharaohs in contention for the title. Egypt was drawn in Group D, the tournament’s so-called group of death – alongside Ghana, Mali, and Uganda. And it started in a rather unimpressive fashion for the North Africans, who could only scoop a solitary point in a barren stalemate in their opening game against Mali; before beating Uganda and Ghana 1-0 apiece to top the group.

This set the tone for an epic quarter-final clash against Morocco with Cúper’s team emerging victorious by a slim one-goal margin. But the Egyptians had to dig deeper to overcome Burkina Faso, winning the semi-final 4-3 on penalties, after drawing 1-1 in regulation time. This match was their first game that they conceded a goal in. Roma winger, Mohamed Salah with two goals, and goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, have been the standout stars for the Pharaohs.

Cameroon

Road to Gabon

Just like Egypt, four-time champions, Cameroon, qualified for the Nations Cup without losing a single game. The Indomitable Lions emerged as group winners – ahead of Mauritania and South Africa.

Journey to the final

The Indomitable Lions’ preparation for the showpiece was dealt a huge blow after as many as eight players turned down the opportunity to feature in the competition. This includes Premier League duo Joel Matip and Allan Nyom alongside Schalke forward, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

“Times are changing. Before certain players were happy to come and play for Cameroon,” head coach, Hugo Broos said. “Now some clubs put pressure on their players. Those who are coming to the ends of their contracts prefer to stay in Europe in order to negotiate better deals.”

However, Broos’ team weren’t deterred and has instead excelled in their absence.

The Cameroonians were held in their first two games, by Burkina Faso and Gabon, before seeing off Equatorial Guinea 2-1 to finish as runner-up in Group A.

The West Africans then stunned pre-tournament favourites, Senegal, 5-4 on penalties before beating Ghana 2-0 in the semis. Skipper, Benjamin Moukandjo and young winger, Christian Bassogog, have both been exceptional for the four-time champions.

Predictions for the final

Egypt and Cameroon will face-off for the 27th time in the grand finale of the 2017 AFCON. The Pharaohs hold an absolute authoritative advantage over their rivals having beaten them 15 times and lost just five.

Both sides have previously met twice at this stage in 1986 and 2008; with Egypt coming out tops on both occasions. Broos’ team will be motivated by the fact that they’ve only lost once in eight finals and have conceded just once in Gabon.

The streak looks likely to continue on Sunday at the Stade de l’Amitié, Libreville.

BY: wilson eric

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