Mo Salah
Mo Salah

Egypt have qualified to the quarter-finals of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 following a 5-4 penalties shootouts victory over Cote d’Ivoire.

The record champions kept their cool in the nerve-racking penalties to beat Cote d’Ivoire with substitute goalkeeper Mohamed Daader saving Eric Bailly’s spot-kick.

The match was watched by an enthusiastic crowd at the Japoma Stadium.

Ahmed El Fotouh of Egypt challenges Serge Aurier of Ivory Coast during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Last 16 match between Ivory Coast and Egypt

The Elephants started brightly at the Japoma Stadium with their midfield three of Franck Kessie, Jean Michael Seri and Ibrahim Sangare controlling their play.

Franck Yannick Kessie had the first effort of the much talked about the match when his long-range effort from distance agonizingly missed El Shenawy’s goal.

The Pharaohs weathered the early Elephants storm and they were denied by the woodwork when Omar Khalid Marmoush’s curled effort smashed the frame of Badra Ali Sangare’s goal with 16 minutes on the clock.

Sebastien Haller of Ivory Coast and Ahmed Hegazy of Egypt challenge for the header during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals Last 16 match between Ivory Coast and Egypt

Badra Ali tipped over Mohamed Salah’s dipping strike for a corner, the Egyptian captain had turned away from his marker before firing at Sangare.

With an electric atmosphere inside the stadium, the two teams cancelled each other in midfield while they continue to create openings.

Cote d’Ivoire played on the wide areas with Nicolas Pepe and veteran Max Alain Gradel providing an outlet. The Arsenal winger latched on to a long ball over the top cutting in the infield to strike straight at the impressive El Shenawy.

The 2015 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations champions were forced to make an early substitution when Kessie pulled out on the half-hour mark.

Egypt captain Mohamed Salah on the attack during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals Last 16 match between Ivory Coast and Egypt held at Japoma Stadium in Douala, Cameroon on 26 January 2022

Elephants’ goalkeeper Badra Ali went down low to his left to turn away Mohamed Mostafa’s first-time strike before tipping over Salah’s half volley.

The Ivorians responded 8 minutes before halftime with Sangare from the back post. The midfielder’s acrobatic volley was forced an instinctive save from El Shenawy.

El Shenawy kept the score goalless with another brilliant save on the stroke of halftime, the Al Ahly keeper stooped Sebastien Haller’s goal-bound effort.

The second half was a more open contest as the two African giants battled for a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Mohamed Salah of Egypt celebrates during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Last 16 match between Ivory Coast and Egypt on the 26 January 2022 (2)

The Pharaohs continued to push forward with man of the match Mohamed Elneny coming close seven minutes after the restart.

The marauding midfielder’s shot on the edge of the box was deflected towards Ali Badra’s near post but the Ivorian keeper had a fingertip to it.

The two keepers were kept busy as the match opened up with the two coaches reshuffling their tactics. Pepe had a shot saved by El Shenawy on 75 minutes before Mostafa Mohamed curled an effort wide.

Substitute Wilfred Zaha was denied by El Shenawy on 85 minutes following a brilliant move by another substitute Jeremie Boga.

With nothing separating the two side in 90 minutes extra time was couldn’t either.

Ibrahim Sangare came close in extra time with a brilliant effort for Cote d’Ivoire before Mahmoud Hassan missed a great opportunity from Mohamed Salah’s cut back on the stroke of full-time.

The victory sends Egypt to the quarter-finals to play Morocco for a place in the semis.