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Wednesday , February 8 2023

Salah shines as Egypt advance to African Cup semifinals

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Jan 30, (AP): Mohamed Salah scored the equalizer and created the winner to inspire Egypt’s comeback on Sunday to beat Morocco 2-1 after extra time and reach the African Cup semifinals. Egypt fell behind to an early penalty won by Achraf Hakimi and converted by Sofiane Boufal in the seventh minute. Salah reacted to knock in a rebound to make it 1-1 in the 53rd and sent in a perfect low cross for Trézéguet to tap in near the end of the first half of extra time. Egypt were left to rely on third choice goalkeeper Mohamed Sobhy for most of extra time after an injury to Mohamed Abou Gabal, who was already in the team in place of first choice Mohamed el-Shenawy.

Egypt went through to a semifinal against host Cameroon, which is a repeat of the 2017 final that was won by Cameroon. Egypt haven’t won the African Cup since their record-extending seventh title in 2010. Salah made his debut for the national team the year after that triumph and is still searching for a first major title with his country. Burkina Faso joined Cameroon in the last four by surprising Tunisia 1-0. Teenage forward Dango Ouattara scored Burkina Faso’s goal in first-half injury time and was sent off in the 82nd minute for an elbow on Tunisia defender Ali Maaloul, leaving his team to cling on to the lead he gave it for the last 10 minutes.

The Burkina Faso squad have had to try and focus on soccer this week amid the distracting news of a coup back home. The players erupted in joyous celebrations at the final whistle in Garoua. They swept up coach Kamou Malo, hugged him and danced and chanted while he was trying to give a post-match TV interview. That incident at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Monday is the subject of an investigation which could yet see the venue removed as host of the African Cup final on Feb. 6.

The Cameroon government has blamed the stampede at the last-16 game between Cameroon and Comoros on an influx of ticketless fans who forced their way into the stadium to avoid security checks and COVID-19 screening. Fans must show negative coronavirus tests and be vaccinated to attend African Cup games. But witnesses have said that security failures were partly to blame for the tragedy, where 38 people were also injured, seven of them seriously. Either way, the stampede realized pre-tournament fears over Cameroon’s preparations, and particularly the readiness of its stadiums. The Central African nation was meant to host the African soccer championship in 2019 but was stripped of that year’s version because its stadiums were too far behind schedule.

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