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Egypt’s Salah to face Senegal’s Mane in final after shootout win over Cameroon

In Sunday’s final, Africa’s two best players will face off, but before the marketing team for this tournament gets too excited about a duel between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, it’s better to expect a slow burner. Egypt is enamored with them, as evidenced here. They survived a series of scares in the first half against Cameroon, who were enthusiastic but blunt, and then pushed the game to its maximum.

When penalties approached, it seemed as if everyone, except the raucous 900 fans who had come in from Cairo, might as well go home: Egypt just does not lose penalties and, for the sixth time in a row, kept their cool while others wilted.Salah did not have to take the deciding kick, like he did in the quarter-final against Ivory Coast, because Cameroon had previously missed three.
Harold Moukoudi’s straight run-up and James Léa Siliki’s short run-up both looked bad, and Mohamed Abou Gabal saved two weak efforts. Clinton N’Jie missed the final penalty, but Egypt had hung in there and capitalized from their opponents’ mistakes, avenging their setback in the 2017 Cup of Nations final.If they want to overcome Senegal in open play, they’ll have to play Salah more regularly.
He was given thin gruel in a team that was all too often nasty. Martin Hongla gave him his sole chance early in the second half, with a quick back pass that put him up against André Onana. As Salah attempted to run around him, the home keeper dashed out of his area and successfully stretched out a foot to intercept. Salah was limited to two errant long-range efforts; the fact that Egypt cares little about keeping the ball in play for long amounts of time does not help anyone promote their talent, save for those who get things done by the ugliest methods.
It was hardly the kind of carnival the Confederation of African Football might have envisaged a fortnight ago. Now they can at least anticipate a meeting of Salah and Mané that ought to get mouths watering; the hope must be that one or the other can rise above the endless scrap and scuffle.
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